Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Act Now: Autism Police Training and the Blue Envelope Program Are Needed to Bring about True Community Policing for People with Autism! - The Arc of Massachusetts Skip to main content

Please Demand Ways & Means Committee Members Act so H2351/S1568 and S2542 Will Be Passed into Law!

Advocates: we have two very important autism policing bills in a position to be passed that are currently waiting in the House and Senate Ways and Means Committee – and very little time to act before the 193rd Legislative Session ends.  

Bill H2351/S1568, “An Act relative to police interactions with persons on the autism spectrum,” and Bill S2542, “An Act facilitating better interactions between police officers and persons with autism spectrum disorder” better known as the Blue Envelope Program, both seek to improve interactions, understanding, and communication between law enforcement and the autistic community.

Autism Police Training Expansion will enhance police training in appropriate interactions with people with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, expanding the mandated cadet training to include veteran officers and correctional officers through in-service training.

The Blue Envelope Program will facilitate understanding and better communication between law enforcement and autistic drivers. Autistic drivers can voluntarily request a blue envelope, which attaches to the car’s visor. The envelope would hold the driver’s license, registration, etc., as well as specific instructions for the police officer on the driver’s diagnosis, impairments, triggers, and contact information. This information sharing would be equally important for passengers on the autism spectrum.

Without adequate training, law enforcement could likely misread the actions of an individual on the autism spectrum. Use of force with an individual with autism can take on a different meaning than when dealing with a typical-functioning person. Many people with autism display no physical markers to alert you to their disability, but may be prone to communication challenges, wandering, and sensory issues.

Every year, numerous people with autism spectrum disorder suffer psychological trauma, physical injury, or even death due to misunderstanding.

The Blue Envelope Program’s straightforward approach is so clearly needed – it has already been rolled out with some 12,000 envelopes disseminated by law enforcement. The Massachusetts State Police are encouraging drivers who have passengers with autism to also use the envelope to communicate with police. This is great news, but training to make these interactions successful is needed. This bill needs to be passed so it can be consistently understood by police and effectively applied across all of Massachusetts.

The primary sponsors of Autism Police Training Expansion are Representative Kay Khan and Senator Michael Moore. The primary sponsors of the Blue Envelope Program are Representative Kay Khan, Representative Mindy Domb, and Senator Joanne Comerford.

The two-year long effort to have these important bills passed only has days left. Let’s demand these autism policing improvements get done in this the 193rd legislative session. The autistic community shouldn’t have to wait any longer!

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