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Wandering Boy Inspires Cadillac Police to Create Special Needs Person Database

An autistic 9-year-old wandered away from home in Cadillac and that incident sparked a change at the police department — aimed at helping the most vulnerable people.

The Cadillac City Police Department is creating a ‘special needs person’ database to help those who struggle to communicate in an emergency.

This is all a voluntary database.

So when police see someone wandering — they can identify and help that person quickly — even if they can’t communicate.    

“I never thought this would happen. He’s never got out before or anything. So there’s always a first time for everything,” said Nikki Ciacelli.

Ciacelli, her husband and five kids are new to town.

This summer, she dealt with a situation that is terrifying for any parent — her 9-year-old son Keetin wandered off.

“I woke up to knocking on my door and as soon as I seen it was a police officer. They were looking for the parents of a little boy who was mentally handicapped, can’t talk, can’t communicate and he’s in a polo. I immediately knew that was my Keetin.”

She immediately went to pick him up.

A neighbor found the boy wandering and took him to the police station.

That was enough inspiration for the Cadillac City Police Department to form a ‘special needs person’ database.

“Me as his mom it’s hard because I’m his voice. Not everybody understands how hard it is to take care of an autistic child who is nonverbal and doesn’t sign, he just communicates in body language.”

The database is for people who can’t communicate.

It shows who they are and where they live — for example, people on the autism spectrum or those who suffer from dementia.

Then, when police see someone wandering, they can get the person to safety as quickly as possible.

“It’d just cut down on the amount of time it takes to return people to their home, to where they feel safe,” said Cadillac City Police Captain Eric Eller.

To register for the database, visit the Cadillac Police Post at 200 N Lake St, Cadillac, MI, or call them at 231-775-3491.

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