BURGAW, NC (WECT) - The shooting death of Brunswick County teen Keith Vidal has prompted change in a police department dozens of miles away.
The 18-year-old was shot and killed by a police officer after his parents called for help during one of his "schizophrenic episodes."
The Burgaw Police Chief says after that, a resident reached out to the department explaining he had a family member with special needs and wanted to know what types of programs were in place for when police respond to similar calls.
That is when the new program called S.A.V.E. was born. It stands for Special Awareness Verification Enrollment.
Here is how it works: residents will be able to register with the Burgaw Police Department and let them know if anyone in their household or family has any special needs, is a diagnosed with a mental illness or has any other medical issues. They can also provide any contact information they want.
This way if an officer is dispatched to a registered home, they will get the background information before they arrive on the scene.
The chief of the department said the more information they have about a call, the better.
"We don't get all of the facts," Chief Montrian Sutton explained. "We may get a call and it's quoted as a 'disturbance' or 'subject is hostile.' It would be nice to know if that subject was impaired on something or has mental issue. We want to know what the brunt of that [situation] is. It helps officers to respond better and know what to do when they get to the call."
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