Autism Spectrum Disorder Blue Envelope Program
The Hunterdon County Police Chiefs Association has developed a Blue Envelope Program, modeled on a program first developed and distributed in the State of Connecticut. The purpose of the Blue Envelope is to improve the interaction between a driver with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and a Police Officer on a traffic stop. The blue envelope provides written information and guidance on enhancing effective communication between police officers and people with ASD.
The primary goal of the Blue Envelope is to assist drivers with ASD with document organization and to help them understand what to do on a motor vehicle stop. The envelope's instructions warn the driver that the officer might have a radio and flashing lights on their car, and they also direct the driver to keep his or her hands on the steering wheel until they receive further instructions. The directions detail the process of events that should occur during the stop and how the driver should respond. The envelope is a place for the driver to keep a copy of their license, registration, and insurance card, along with a document that explains their medical diagnosis and provides the contact information of another person who can verify that detail.
Secondly, the Blue Envelope provides Police Officers with the means to quickly identify an operator of a motor vehicle who has ASD and helps guide Police Officers with the interaction. The police officer's section of the envelope explains some behaviors the driver might exhibit, including repetitive body movements and signs of high anxiety. Police are also instructed to allow the driver extra time to respond, to use the most simplistic language possible and to clearly tell the driver when he or she can leave the scene.
The Blue Envelopes have been distributed to each of the Police Departments, Sheriff's Department, Prosecutor's Office, and State Police Barracks within Hunterdon County and will be available for people to pick up after October 1, 2022. Additionally, the Blue Envelopes are being distributed to the driver’s education programs at each of the Hunterdon County High Schools.