🚨 Morris County law enforcement launch Blue Envelope program this month

🚨 It is designed to help drivers with autism better communicate with officers

🚨 ASD drivers simply give a cop the blue envelope full of their credentials

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office, the County Prosecutor’s Office, and the County Police Chiefs’ Association have announced the start of the Blue Envelope Program to coincide with Autism Awareness Month.

With The Blue Envelope Program, drivers who are on the autism spectrum can prepare to potentially have interaction with police, said Morris County Sheriff James Gannon.

Law enforcement offices provide the blue envelopes to drivers with autism spectrum disorder. Gannon said the drivers put their information on the blue envelope, then hands that blue envelope to the officer who pulls them officer to let the officer know that this driver needs special care.

Oftentimes, police lights and sirens can be upsetting for a driver with autism and they can cause anxiety to someone with special needs, Gannon said.

The program started in Connecticut to alleviate some unnecessary confusion that can occur between police and driver who has ASD.

Gannon said it was Washington Township Morris County Police Chief Jeff Almer who saw the program being done in Hunterdon County and brought it to the attention of the Morris County Police Chiefs Association executive board.

Front of Blue Envelope (Photo Credit: Morris County Sheriff's Office)
Front of Blue Envelope (Photo Credit: Morris County Sheriff's Office)

“Everybody thought it was a great idea. We’ve done the launch of it now and we’re looking forward to positive interactions out there in the community,” Gannon said.

A driver with ASD may be fidgeting. But Gannon said once the police officer sees that blue envelope, he or she can take a step back and say “Time is on our side.”

There will be a point of contact on that envelope that the officer can call and interact with so they know how best to handle the situation.

The blue envelope contains the vehicle operator’s driver’s license, vehicle registration, and vehicle insurance card, along with contact information for family and friends to the officer if they are stopped for a motor vehicle infraction.

Additionally, there are instructions to educate the officer on the fact that the driver may display behaviors that might otherwise lead to suspicion on the officer’s part, such as lack of eye contact, or reactions to sirens and lights.

“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,” said Morris County Prosecutor Robert Carroll.

Mendham Township Police Chief Ross Johnson and president of the Morris County Police Chiefs Association also praised the program, saying it’s a terrific way to bring immediate awareness to an officer on a stop before the situation has a chance to escalate or turn into a negative encounter.

Back text of Blue Envelope (Photo Credit: Morris County Sheriff's Office)
Back text of Blue Envelope (Photo Credit: Morris County Sheriff's Office)

Gannon said he likes the fact that the blue envelope is maintained by the driver. There are no special markings on the vehicle. People who may be a vulnerable population are not targeted.

About 2 to 3 thousand blue envelopes with accompanying enclosures have been printed up and are being distributed throughout Morris County by law enforcement officers for immediate use.

If anyone wants a blue envelope, Gannon said to go to the Morris County Sheriff’s website or to call him directly at 973-285-6600.

“Police stops can be te4nse 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.

Gannon also wanted to point out a project in New Jersey that all the sheriffs are involved in called Project Lifesaver or Angel Sense, which coincides with Autism Awareness Month.

It’s for people who are on the spectrum or others who have cognitive issues, where if they wander off and are fitted with a transponder, law enforcement officers can locate them.

He said it’s been a very successful program. In Morris County, Project Lifesaver is free. Law enforcement officers fit the people with the transponders, they change the batteries and it dovetails with Autism Awareness Month.

Gannon said he hopes the Blue Envelope Program catches on and every New Jersey county follows suit.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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