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Auburn Police Department teams up with developmentally disabled

By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writer
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Ty Weiland knew he wanted to be a police officer at a young age. The developmentally disabled Auburn resident said he always enjoyed helping out other people and making the community a better place to live. “I always used to dress up like a cop and arrest people for not putting the toilet seat down,” Wei-land said. “Just people in my family, of course, no one I didn’t know.” Weiland and half a dozen other members of Achieving Independent Milestones, a Grass Valley-based job skills program for developmentally disabled adults, spent their Wednesday soaking up the sun and soaked in suds while washing patrol cars at the Auburn Police Department. The department and Achieving Independent Milestones recently launched a partnership to help the adults develop independence and productivity and become contributing members of the community. “The goal is for them to develop the skills that will help them find jobs and function normally,” said Capt. Jim Weldon of the Auburn Police Department. “We are really excited about this symbiotic relationship because it is a good opportunity to partner with people who benefit from this experience. Part of our goal is to find ways to partner with people in the community and this is something that is good for us and good for them.” Janet Brandon, owner and director of Achieving Independent Milestones, said the adults in the program specifically asked to work with the Auburn Police Department. “This is the first time something like this has been done,” Brandon said. “We don’t have a building, the community is our site.” In the two weeks the partnership has been running, the results are already showing, she said. “We are getting huge support,” she said. “The boys are learning great work skills and feel a real sense of community pride.” James Hailey, who gets excited about traveling to the police department each Wednesday, said he knows he is getting something valuable out of his experiences. “I know this will help me in the future,” Hailey said. “I might be able to use Capt. Weldon as a ref-erence and I am getting to work on detailing cars, which is something I really like doing and would like to do.” Tyler Silva-Barrett said he uses Wednesdays as an opportunity to challenge himself. “Last week we washed six cars and this week I want to get up to eight,” he said. “I like that this is helping me learn how to get a job. And these guys (from the department) are so fun to be around. I could hang out with them all day.” Brandon said Achieving Independent Milestones would like to expand the project in the future to work with other organizations, including expanding roles with the police department. Police Chief Valerie Harris said the volunteers offer the department valuable help. “These volunteers are helping us greatly enhance our support roles,” Harris said. “They are helping us be more available to do our jobs.” The Journal’s Jenna Nielsen can be reached at jennan@goldcountrymedia.com or comment on this story at auburnjournal.com.