Alabama Autism Safety Initiative addresses the need for statewide safety measures:
Law Enforcement Autism Safety Training Bridges Autism Education and Training Gap
Montgomery, Ala.—Police are trained to respond to crisis situations with a certain protocol, but this protocol may not always be the most efficient way to interact with people on the spectrum. It’s critical that these officers have a working knowledge of autism and the wide range of behaviors people living with autism can exhibit in emergency situations.
D.A.T.S.M.O.M. Founder Tametria Dantzler says this component of the Alabama Autism Safety Initiative is a great way to establish rapport with police while officers, individuals on spectrum and their families all learn best practices for engagement with one another.
“Teaching police officers the signs of autism is an important first step toward preventing unfortunate situations that we’ve seen recently in the news. And not only sharing information, but letting the officers interact with children and young adults on the spectrum during the training and modeling real scenarios is truly the best way to learn,’ Dantzler said.
The first training involves deputies and officers with Montgomery Police Department, Montgomery Police Academy and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. During the demonstrative training, law enforcement officers will learn how to recognize the behavioral symptoms and characteristics of a child or adult on the spectrum and learn basic response techniques. They will also learn the risks associated with autism, and learn how to address those risks.
“The Montgomery Police Department has never had autism training of any sort. This will be a historic opportunity not only for the capital city, but for the state law enforcement to have a strategic autism awareness plan and demonstrative training with families,” Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley said.
“We want to exercise best practices for our citizens and staff and this training for parents and deputies would help build the community inclusion the department aims for. This proposal aligns with our commitment to increase our parent involvement with child safety awareness,” Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham said.
Law enforcement will also use this training opportunity to share information with families about home safety procedures, lost/missing children procedure, creation of DNA kits, and home and school safety planners.
“This is not a one-time training with one police department.The goal is comprehensive training with every officer within each department across the state. I believe every officer who patrols our streets should be aware of how to engage with someone on the spectrum,” Dantzler said.