CEPD brings Blue Envelope Program to residents

Sergeant Kevin Kennedy and the Cape Elizabeth Police Department have brought a new resource to Cape Elizabeth, the "Blue Envelope Program." 

The Blue Envelope Program began in Connecticut in 2020. It is designed for a motor vehicle operator who may have Autism, or a similar diagnosis, which could show signs of anxiety or nonverbal behavior to a police officer during a traffic stop or similar event such as a motor vehicle accident.

The program grew to police departments in New Jersey and New York. The Cape Elizabeth Police Department launched the program in September of 2023 and became the first department in the state of Maine to have such a program.

The event of being pulled over can make one anxious. The Blue Envelope Program provides the driver with a blue envelope in which it contains a copy of the license, registration, and insurance. On the outside of the envelope is a check box indicating that the driver is autistic and is verbal or nonverbal. It reminds the holder of the envelope to keep their hands on the steering wheel, that the officer may shine a flashlight into the car, and that they may hear a police radio. It mentions for the operator to show the officer the Blue Envelope.

The other side of the envelope informs the police officer that the driver may exhibit signs of anxiety due to the bright lights or the police radio, that they may have repetitive body movements, be fidgety, or have unusual eye contact. It also reminds the officer to speak clearly and to use simplistic explanations, allow the driver extra time to respond, and to clearly tell the driver when they are free to leave.

Also, inside of the envelope is an enclosure explaining the program, with the opposite side having a list of emergency contacts for the driver (names and telephone numbers of relatives, close friends, practitioners). This is in case the driver is having a difficult time or gets upset, the officer can reach out to the contact.

There have been some unfortunate incidents in the United States where a police officer has mistaken a person with a diagnosis as being uncooperative. The purpose of the Blue Envelope is to prevent such an experience. It is also designed for the interaction to be positive for both the officer and the driver.

At the Cape Elizabeth Police Department, our officers undergo training in interacting with those who have a diagnosis in which they may be anxious, nonverbal, or distrustful of the police. The Blue Envelope Program will only help to strengthen an already strong bond that our officers have with people of the autism population and their families.

The Blue Envelope and enclosure are available from officers on patrol, at the front desk of the Police Department, and can be mailed to a person requesting one. They are available to both residents and nonresidents of Cape Elizabeth.


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