Park Police Officers to Get Sensory Bags to Help Deal with Stressed or Troubled Individuals

An additional 25 sensory bags, designed to help to de-escalate a stressful situation with a person, will be distributed to county Park Police patrol officers to help them connect with individuals dealing with extreme stress, a disability or a mental health issue, officials announced.

The bags, which can serve as medium between an officer and someone who may be verbal or non-verbal, distressed, or over stimulated, previously had been given to the search and rescue team and K-9 units.

“The sensory bags will provide our patrol and Search & Rescue team members with items that can help them calm stressed persons of different cognitive abilities/neurodiversity. Our goal is to always foster positive interactions with all patrons of our park system,” Darryl McSwain, chief of the county’s division of the Maryland-National Capital Park Police, said in a press release.

“To ensure our efforts are productive, it is important that we continue to educate ourselves on best practices from various disciplines for maximum effectiveness,” he added.

Officers will receive bags on April 20 and be trained on how and when to use the tools.

Bags include, among other items, whiteboards, noise-blocking headphones, puzzle balls, Slinky™ toys, finger traps, sensory bean pods, Rubik’s Cubes™, stress balls, pop’em balls, and Tangles™.

The project is a partnership of the Park Police and Montgomery Parks’ Program Access Office.

Montgomery Parks photo

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