St. Paul police have a new app to help officers interact better with people with disabilities

It's the first department in the country to use this app.

St. Paul police are using a new app to help officers better recognize and interact with people who have behavioral, developmental and mental health disorders. 

The app is called Vitals, and it was made by a Minnesota company.

It's designed to help people who have "invisible disabilities" and aren't always able to communicate effectively. 

The app is designed to give police and first responders real-time information about vulnerable people who are nearby, including details about their conditions, triggers and de-escalation techniques, a news release says.

"The program gives our officers the information they need when responding to these difficult situations to better address those suffering from mental health crises, autism, dementia," St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said, according to FOX 9

And the St. Paul Police Department is the first agency in the U.S. to use this app, the release says. 

How it works

A vulnerable person or their caregiver can create a Vitals profile, which includes information that could be helpful to police or first responders (see image at right). 

Then that person carries around a Vitals beacon (it can be a card, button or a phone app).

When the Vitals beacon is within 30-80 feet of an officer with the Vitals First Responder app, the officer will get an alert. 

The officer will then be able to see all the information in the person's Vitals profile.

The idea is that the officer will already have important information about the person they're trying to help. This can help reduce or avoid conflicts and get the person the help they need, the release says. 

How much does it cost? 

The St. Paul Police Department is using the program for free for the first two years (the department was part of a pilot program), the Pioneer Press says

Other police departments that choose to use the program will pay $5 a month per officer, the paper notes. 

As for people with disabilities who choose to create a profile, they'll pay $9.99 a month for the service, plus additional monty for the beacon. 

For more information on how it works – or to create a profile – click here

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