This time of year, I’ve usually seen more than a handful of autism-related wandering stories. I’ve only seen a few. But even one story is too many. I’ve shared a few stories myself over the years. I’ve also shared how our local police have been immediately available to us in those moments of uncertainty. Most of the time, the citizen reaches out to the police asking for help. I was recently reminded of the time when they reached out to me.
Several years ago, I was able to get to the library alone. Looking forward to the quiet and to writing a new story, I was interrupted before I could turn my laptop on. My cell phone rang. Easily I could have ignored the call, but I got a feeling that I needed to answer it.
“Hello?” I quietly answered.
“This is Lt. Thomas with the police department. I need to speak to Cathy Jameson.”
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Visions of the worst disasters imaginable flashed through my mind. I quietly darted outside. Barely audible, I replied, “This is Cathy…”
“Hey, Cathy. I need some help.”
The officer was chipper, so I took that as a good sign.
He continued, “I need an update on Ronan. We have his file here with his picture. You gave that to us a few years ago. We want to make sure we have accurate information now just in case we’re called to respond to an emergency.”
My heart stopped racing. A smile spread across my face.
“Oh! Well, of course! I can update that stuff for you today. Let me do that when I get back home.”
The officer went on, “We know he’s got some special issues, so whatever we can do to help, just let us know.”
Within seconds of answering the phone I went from thinking worse-case scenario to wanting to cry tears of happiness and thanksgiving. The police know we have a very delicate situation. They want to help. They know Ronan has some very great needs, and they recognize that it can take extra time and effort to keep a child like him safe. I welcomed their support.
We’ve had to call the local police before. Without any hesitation, they leaped into action. That happened when Ronan went missing on a cold, dark night several years ago. I never want to wish that experience on anyone. That night, with the help of our neighbors, and with the immediate response from the police and sheriff’s department deputies, we had quite the crew fanned out looking for Ronan. He was found safe a few houses down the street from our home.