COLORADO SPRINGS — A Colorado Springs Police Officer found a form of technology to help one local mother and her special needs son, who leaves the house frequently alone.
Officer Ali Steinhardt decided she had to do more to help Hunter, a local boy with autism who was the subject of several phone calls to police. Officer Steinhardt said Hunter likes to leave his home alone without telling his mother. "Been found wandering all over the place, he's just adventurous," said Steinhardt.
She said the calls have been happening since before she started in September of last year, but she noticed they started happening more in February. "We were probably getting calls once a week, maybe more," said Steinhardt. Steinhardt said she is a softball coach for the Special Olympics, and has a place in her heart for individuals with special needs.
Officer Steinhardt said she had spent hours searching for Hunter at times, and would go home thinking about him. She made the decision to look for some sort of a more permanent solution. "Did a whole lot of research, kind of using my connections with Special Olympics and online other agencies to try to find out how we could best help him," said Steinhardt.
She found a company called AngelSense, which she said is designed for people with special needs and can actually track them. "They're made specifically for kids like Hunter, and adults, and they have a lot of good features, it's livestream tracking. A parent can track it on an app on their phone, [and is] able to see where he is right away," said Steinhardt.
Officer Steinhardt told the company about Hunter's situation, and said they offered it to the family for 30 days free of charge. She also said AngelSense was "even more kind to say hey, you know, if this works for the family, and if this is something they want to keep using, we're going to wave that initial device fee so they just have the monthly payment."
She also worked with the Department of Human Services and the Resource Exchange to try and help with the monthly fee, but "ultimately, mom decided to pay for the monthly service herself," said Steinhardt.
For her work with Hunter, Officer Steinhardt received the Chief's Vision and Values Award. Officer Steinhardt said helping her community in this way is why she became a police officer in the first place. "It makes me sleep better at night, I'm not worrying about him as much, you know, just making sure he's safe," said Steinhardt.
On Wednesday night, when News 5 posted this story, Hunter wandered away from his home again without his device. Officer Steinhardt said he was found safely, but does not really like wearing his device in the current form of a belt. She said she will work with his mother to try and transform it into a bracelet.
Hunter's mother asked if anyone does see him out and about, to please report it.