Q: I worry about my son that is autistic having a negative encounter with police, what can I do to reduce the chance that my son will have a negative encounter with police?

A: Thank you for your question. The Red Wing Police Department is always concerned about providing the proper response to calls for service from our community!

RWPD continually looks for training opportunities for responding to mental health concerns and in 2018, the Minnesota Legislature required that officers receive additional training in these three areas:

  • crisis intervention and mental illness crises,
  • conflict management and mediation,
  • recognizing and valuing community diversity and cultural differences to include implicit bias.

Most recently, RWPD has coordinated with Goodhue County Dispatch to add important information to our records management system, which is protected as confidential and private information under our criminal justice information system. The parent or guardian of an individual that suffers from a mental health condition, contacts the Red Wing Police Department or Goodhue County Dispatch concerning important information. Important information may contain type of disability, actions that irritate, actions that calm and points of contact for the individual, such as doctor, parent, or guardian and any other information the person deems necessary or important to a proper response.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

This information is then attached to an address or the individual that may suffer a mental health crisis within our records system. When officers are dispatched to an address with this information attached, the dispatcher is alerted that the person may have a mental impairment and recommended actions for calming the individual, which can then be passed onto the officer to ensure a safe response.

The Legislature also amended Minnesota Statute 171.07 Information on License and Identification Cards in 2020 to include subdivision 6a, autism spectrum identifier and subdivision 6b, mental health identifier on driver’s license. This allows officers to readily identify an individual with mental health and autism concerns from a driver’s license and assist with providing a proper response if needed. More information can be obtained from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Driver and Vehicle Services when you obtain or renew your license.

RWPD is also assessing the cost and benefit of a new program called the Vitals Awareness Services application. The service utilizes an app and Bluetooth-enabled device to provide real-time information about each individual's conditions, disabilities, behavior triggers, de-escalation techniques. Information on a Vitals profile is voluntarily provided by the individual or caregiver and delivered instantaneously to a first responder's phone when they are in close proximity. www.thevitalsapp.com or Dakota County PSA youtube/etRv1bCbiBU


1. Minnesota Statute 171.07 Information on License and Identification Cards, located online at www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/171.07

2. Vitals Awareness Services, located online at thevitalsapp.com.

“Ask The Chief” allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

Submit your question to askthe.policechief@ci.red-wing.mn.us.

Generally one answer a week is posted RWPD social media sites and printed in the Red Wing Republican Eagle.