MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery Parks collaborated with the Maryland-National Capital Park Police, Montgomery County Division,  to create sensory bags for children and individuals with disabilities.

The bags work as a way to break communication barriers between police and those with disabilities. They contain sensory items designed to serve as a coping mechanism. Each bag contains fidgets, stress balls, and other items that can de-escalate a stressful situation. 

According to Montgomery Parks, during a crisis, individuals may not understand the risks associated, especially when a first responder arrives at the scene. Mixed with fear, curiosity, or heightened anxiety, the result can be individuals failing to appropriately respond to directions, which is why the sensory bags are key.

“Our team averages approximately 50 search and rescue events per year across the region. Approximately 50 percent of the individuals we encounter have Alzheimer’s Disease, Autism, intellectual disabilities, or mental health disorders,” said Sergeant Francis Wulff, Search and Rescue Coordinator “These sensory bags provide our officers with an additional tool to help calm a situation and connect with members of the community.”

The Program Access Office will provide 24 additional bags to patrol units later this fall.