Arkansas: Law Enforcement Training on How to Respond to Those with Autism

People with autism often don’t respond to commands. That’s why some police officers in Central Arkansas are taking a different approach when responding to police calls involving someone with a mental disability. Dianna Varady, director of the Arkansas Resource and Outreach Center, has a son with autism. She says the situation in Miami is an example of why she is concerned as a parent about people with autism being victims of crime. Varady says people with autism and other mental disabilities interact differently with police. She says her son might not even respond to an officer. Little Rock Police Department recruits, officers and other law enforcement in Central Arkansas, like the State Police, are now being trained on how to interact with people who have mental disabilities. “If we go to the scene and the family can obviously tell us ahead of time before we make contact with the person that’s having the crisis, that helps out a lot,” said Officer Richard Hilgeman of the Little Rock Police Department. Hilgeman has received the training, which he says taught him to slow down and work to de-escalate the situation. Officers are also being trained to allow those with autism to do things that calm them down, something as simple as rubbing the carpet. They’re also being taught to not give multiple commands and to have patience when dealing with those who have mental disabilities.

Source/more: KATV Little Rock


David Wingate is an elder law attorney at the Elder Law Office of David Wingate, LLC. The elder law office services clients with powers of attorneys, living wills, Wills, Trusts, Medicaid and asset protection. The Elder Law office has locations in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland.

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