Autistic Student Creates Special Accommodation ID for Police

A University of North Texas junior is making it her mission to help law enforcement improve relations with people with special needs when an encounter during an already stressful situation could be made worse without understanding.

(Published Friday, Dec. 8, 2017)

A junior at The University of North Texas has teamed up with campus police to create a special card to let law enforcement know whether a person has special needs.

Christianna Walker, a native-Oklahoman who lives on the autism spectrum, moved to Denton to attend college at UNT where she is a Rehabilitation Studies major.

An 18-year-old Washington state student was arrested after a journal was found detailing plans to shoot his classmates at ACES High School in Everett. According to the Everett Police Department, the 18-year-old's grandmother called 911 Tuesday morning after finding the journal and believed the threats to shoot students at the school were credible.

(Published Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018)

"I'm from a really small town back home," she said. "Everybody just knows me."

But moving to a new city presents challenges. Something she learned first-hand in the spring. Walker said she was the victim of a crime. When police responded, she froze.

"I may not be completely processing what's going on around me," said Walker. "When you have police officers or people around you raising their voices, I'm more likely to just shut down."

Drawing on that incident, Walker approached UNT Campus Police Officer Kevin Crawford to discuss her concerns about the incident, even though it did not happen on the UNT campus or involve his department.

Sam, the K9 partner of Ohio police officer Eric Joering, will be retired from duty and given to Joering's family after Officer Joering's death over the weekend. 

(Published Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018)

"It can be difficult, because there's a lot of moving pieces when you respond," said Crawford. "Especially if you're already in a situation where tensions are up and things can appear aggressive."

Walker and Crawford came up with the design of a small card a person with special needs can carry which spells out to first responders that the person may need special accomodations, due to autism or some other condition.

The card also includes instructions, and contact information in case of emergency.

"When she was telling me her story, we talked about how helpful it would have been if those officers had known what the situation was," said Crawford.

An Iowa great-great grandmother says "life is full of surprises" and "there's no use looking backward" as she celebrates her 104th birthday.

(Published Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018)

Walker keeps her card with her driver's license. Even something as seemingly minor as a traffic stop can cause issues for her.

"We're not telling officers to sacrifice policies or sacrifice their safety," said Crawford. "We're just giving them a tool to make those informed decisions."

Walker hopes the cards can help prevent an interaction with a police officer from turning into a negative experience.

"I've always been one to, if I find a problem," she explained. "I want to help fix it."

A World War II dog tag lost for years has been reunited with its owner's family.

(Published Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018)