Alabama (AL) Law Enforcement Agency - Highway Patrol Wins COPS Office Photo Contest
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) is pleased to feature the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency - Highway Patrol (ALEA) as its “Community Policing in Action” Photo Contest winner for April 2022.
The winning photo shows ALEA Trooper Kendra McKinney showing a sensory bag, designed to help individuals suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder calm themselves, to a passerby. The bags help reduce sensory overload in both adults and children; each bag contains items such as noise-cancelling headphones, fidgets, and picture cards which people unable to speak can use to communicate. This simple but effective tool can provide a way for officers to positively interact and communicate with people suffering from this disability who might appear to pose a threat to themselves or others.
ALEA, which is a consolidation of 12 Alabama state law enforcement agencies, has approximately 1,500 employees in various departments. In 2021, all sworn ALEA personnel completed Sensory Inclusion training. The video-based training focused on instilling understanding, acceptance, and empathy in first responders for those with sensory needs.
When asked about ALEA staff’s reaction to the training and bags, Amanda Wasden, Director of ALEA’s External Affairs, said, “Our Troopers and personnel were very receptive. There are so many citizens that may live with an invisible disability or know someone who does, and this invaluable training allows law enforcement to effectively communicate with those citizens.”
View the winning photo on the COPS Office website, as well as on the COPS Office’s official Twitter profile and Facebook page. ALEA's commitment to community policing and its dedication to protecting members of the Alabama community are also chronicled in the April 2022 edition of the COPS Office e-newsletter, the Community Policing Dispatch.
The COPS Office is the federal component of the Department of Justice responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. The only Department of Justice agency with policing in its name, the COPS Office was established in 1994 and has been the cornerstone of the nation’s crime fighting strategy with grants, a variety of knowledge resource products, and training and technical assistance. Through the years, the COPS Office has become the go-to agency for law enforcement agencies across the country and continues to listen to the field and provide the resources that are needed to reduce crime and build trust between law enforcement and the communities served. The COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 135,000 officers.