BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (NEWS10) – In honor of April’s Autism Awareness Month, the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office launched a new program to alert first responders that a person with a disability is present. The yellow window decal lets first responders that a person with a disability is present and may not respond as expected.

Saratoga County Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo’s new program was designed to improve the safety of persons with autism or any other form of disability. The program was launched on April 1 and he says he has received a positive response. It joins other programs the county has successfully launched to maintain the safety of people with all abilities, including Project Lifesaver.

Additionally this month, patrol vehicles in the county will be adorned with an autism awareness magnet throughout April to promote inclusion. Sheriff Zurlo says his deputies receive continuous training on how to interact with people who are nonverbal and or have a disability.

“It’s been estimated that 50 to 80% of a police officer’s encounters are with a person with a disability,” Zurlo noted. “We’re trying to make sure that first responders know, for example, that there could be another reason why a person might not be responding to them and that it`s not always a case of them being uncooperative. It`s all about safety.”

While the program was rolled out in Saratoga County, residents in other areas are choosing to display it on both vehicles and residences. If you’re interested in a window decal, you can contact Deputy Jason Lang at jlang@saratogacountyny.gov.