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Morris County law enforcement announce inception of the ‘Blue Envelope’ program during Autism Awareness Month

MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – The Morris County Sheriff’s Office, Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Morris County Police Chiefs Association announce the start of the “Blue Envelope Program” this April 2023.

April is Autism Awareness Month and to bring attention to some of the concerns law enforcement officers face when encountering a driver with autism, the “Blue Envelope Program” is being initiated in Morris County. The program began in Connecticut with the intention of alleviating some unnecessary confusion which sometimes occurs between Police and Sheriff’s Officers and the individual driver who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The program works by providing a direct way for people affected by ASD, who sometimes have difficulty in communicating directly, to communicate effectively with Police and Sheriff’s Officers they have ASD during motor vehicle stops by simply conveying their credentials to the officer in a blue envelope.

The intention is to disclose the driver’s condition immediately and instantly improve interactions between the motorist and law enforcement. The program works by allowing the ASD driver to present a blue envelope containing the vehicle operator’s driver’s license, vehicle registration, and vehicle insurance card, along with contact information (cell phone) for family and friends to the officer if they are stopped for a motor vehicle infraction. Additionally, there are instructions to educate the police officer to the fact the driver with ASD may display behaviors that might otherwise lead to suspicion on the officer’s part, such as lack of eye contact, or unusual reactions to flashing lights or loud sirens. There are also tips for the officer to be aware of possible uniquely displayed behaviors by the driver as well.

Morris County Prosecutor Robert Carroll, Sheriff James M. Gannon, and Mendham Township Police Chief Ross Johnson, President of the Morris County Police Chiefs Association, announce start of this program today.

“I think this is a needed and innovative way to help members of our community feel more comfortable with law enforcement. The Blue Envelope Program may help drivers and officers feel safer and communicate easier,” Carroll said.

The program originated in Connecticut and is being emulated throughout the United States. It was suggested in Morris County by Washington Township Chief Jeff Almer. Recently, Morris County Sheriff James Gannon had 3000 Blue Envelopes with accompanying enclosures printed and had them distributed for immediate use by each municipality this Autism Awareness Month.

Warren and Hunterdon County law enforcement agencies also participate in the same program.

“This is a great way to reduce any added danger by creating a communication bridge between drivers with ASD and our officers. Police stops can be tense absent any communication gaps and we don’t want that to be further exacerbated simply because of a misunderstanding, everyone’s safety is important to us here in Morris County,” Gannon said.

Chief Ross Johnson also praised the program and Chief Almer of Washington Township for bringing it to light. Chief Johnson began as the President of the MCPCA in January and pushed to have this program up and running for this April – National Autism Awareness Month.

“It’s a terrific way to bring immediate awareness to an officer on a stop before the situation has an opportunity to potentially escalate or to deescalate an interaction that may be turning into a negative encounter. The program fosters a positive meeting with our officers and the public we serve. Our Association’s Executive Board meets with Prosecutor Carroll and Sheriff Gannon every month to exchange ideas and this idea is one we all agreed was worth pursuing immediately,” Johnson said.

If you or a family member would like a “Blue Envelope” you can reach out to your local police department, the sheriff’s office, or the prosecutor’s office and one or more will be provided upon request.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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