- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

SOMERSET, N.J. (AP) - The badges seemed just a bit shinier and many eyes just a bit damper as a news conference at the Franklin Township Police Headquarters on Dec. 3 put on full display the true meaning of community policing.

The story began with a call on Mischief Night of all days. On Oct. 30, Franklin Township Police Officer Richard Hartnett, an 11-year veteran of the force, interacted with Kimora Miller, a single mother of two boys age 3 and 16. Miller’s older son, Zion, who is autistic and nonverbal, had wandered off from their home. The young man has a history of walking off. Fortunately, police found Zion a short distance away.

The grateful mother explained to Hartnett that she felt Zion walked away out of frustration because he often is unable to effectively communicate his thoughts and feelings to her.

“She as a single mom raising two autistic children has her hands full,” Hartnett told the Courier News (http://mycj.co/1IvWvKX ).

The officer added that while Miller’s younger son, Noah, does communicate verbally, because Zion Miller does not, he tends to become very frustrated.

“We have encountered the family on several occasions, and I decided that I wanted to help them,” Hartnett added.

Recently at Zion’s school, Bright Beginnings in Piscataway, it was found that the youth was able to clearly communicate using a tablet with a specific application called TouchChat, which is proprietary to Apple. This application costs approximately $300.

Hartnett decided to do more than his sworn duty. So the veteran officer spoke to Policemen Benevolent Association Local 154 President Mark Rossman.

In true charity, the PBA agreed to purchase the application for the Millers. Rossman also contacted Jim O’Neil of Electronic Enterprise in the Somerset section of the township. O’Neil’s company provided Zion with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, which costs about $300, so Kimora Miller would be able to effectively communicate with her son.

“When we were approached by Officer Hartnett, it was kind of a no-brainer,” O’Neil said. “We are a local company and want to be active within the community. It is our pleasure to provide them with the tablet if it can improve his communication skills and make their lives easier.”

After exploring different options with Miller regarding applications that are compatible with the Android-based system that O’Neil’s firm provided, she narrowed her choices to iToucan or AAC Autism Communicator.

On Dec. 3 at police headquarters, Miller and Zion met with those who helped bring this valuable gift to their family.

“This is an example of the commitment the men and women of the Franklin Township Police Department have to this community,” said Franklin Police Chief Lawrence W. Roberts. “Police work is not just about enforcing the laws, it’s about helping people. Officer Hartnett went above and beyond to help this family. He enlisted his fellow officers in the union as well as partners in the private sector assist a family in need. I am proud of the work my officers do to make this community great.”

“This is an early Christmas present,” Miller said. “I can’t thank Officer Hartnett and Mr. O’Neil enough for all they have done. This device will allow Zion to communicate better and express his feelings. We’ve had this for a couple days now and he’s much calmer since he’s gotten it.”

___

Information from: Courier News (Bridgewater, N.J.) , http://www.mycentraljersey.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide