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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — A photo capturing a sweet moment between an Alabama State Trooper and a community member is among the 12 winners of a nationwide photo contest.

The picture shows Trooper Kendra McKinney handing a sensory bag to Justin Walker. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) says all sworn personnel are now trained to interact with those that may have sensory needs or with invisible disabilities, and those sensory bags are one of several tools to help troopers.

KultureCity, a non-profit organization recognized across the nation for using its resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for individuals with such needs. The organization offered training to all ALEA personnel on how to interact and effectively help those with sensory needs.

The sensory bags include a set of headphones, a marble fidget, a noodle fidget, a tangle fidget and ID cards. Each item is intended to help lessen sensory overload during heightened situations and is easy to clean and keep sterilized between use.

In August 2020, Governor Kay Ivey announced a statewide partnership between ALEA and KultureCity, making ALEA the nation’s first state law enforcement agency to train and become sensory-inclusive. In August of 2021, Troopers completed that training.

The photo contest, sponsored by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (C.O.P.S. Office) began in 2015 and has gained widespread support from law enforcement agencies for providing a way to share positive interactions with their communities.

During the fall of 2021, C.O.P.S. invited law enforcement agencies on every level across the nation to submit one photo that best depicts community policing in action. Over 280 agencies sent in pictures.

12 winners were announced on January 11:

  • Alabama Law Enforcement Agencyy
  • Cincinnati (OH) Police Department
  • Egg Harbor Township (NJ) Police Department
  • Elgin (IL) Police Department
  • Ewing (NJ) Police Department
  • Grand Rapids (MI) Police Department
  • Lafayette Parish (LA) Sheriff’s Office
  • Norfolk (VA) Police Department
  • Santa Clara (CA) Police Department
  • Spearfish (SD) Police Department
  • Sylva (NC) Police Department
  • Woodland (CA) Police Department

The 12 winning photos will be featured on the C.O.P.S. Office website, their official Twitter profile and Facebook page for one month each during the 2022 calendar year.