A police department in Iowa is sending a strong message about autism that’s catching on worldwide.
Kary Kinmonth is the West Liberty police chief.
He created a special badge last ahead of World Autism Awareness Day on Tuesday April 2nd.
Since then, he’s been getting a lot of letters, from near and far.
“Texas, Arkansas, Florida… We’ve actually had people contact me from overseas,” Kinmonth says.
All of them are trying to get their hands on the special badge for a special cause.
“One of my police officers has a child with a form of Autism and everybody knows somebody,” says Kinmonth.
At $20 a piece, his department has raised more than $1,000 so far for the autism unit of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
“I can’t keep up right now, I had to turn my phone off with the notifications because it was just going crazy on me,” Kinmonth says.
The chief designed the badge with a community member.
“People see this colorful patch on my sleeve and it draws them in. It starts a conversation and then from there we kind of break down barriers that may be perceived or real with police officers,” says Kinmonth.
The patch is also breaking down barriers in other ways.
“It opens the line of communication for anybody who sees it and just normalizes that individuals with autism are just other individuals in our community,” says Kristina Murphy, a West Liberty school counselor.
She says the colorful accessory helps create a more inclusive culture.
“Our students seeing this patch, they’re also realizing, ‘Hey, it’s not something different, it’s just what’s unique about them as individuals,'” Murphy says.
A culture that Chief Kinmonth says he hopes continues to spread– Even if he has to order a few more batches.
“We don’t always get good days in law enforcement and this is a good day, these are good days.”
Chief Kinmonth ordered 300 patches and is down to about 100.
He says he plans to order more.
If you’d like to purchase one, you can send the department a message by clicking here.