Sinclair Cares: Police and Autism

Imagine being worried every time you step out of your house, that your child may end up in an encounter with police.

That's the reality for many families of children with autism.

In this Sinclair Cares report, Jennifer Gilbert shows you how first responders are being trained to make sure their interactions with people with autism, remain safe.

Law enforcement officers are getting an important lesson for when they come across somebody out in the community that has autism.

It's part of mandated training, aimed to give officers the tools they need to deal with people with intellectual developmental disabilities. Because sometimes the outcome can be tragic.

“What we are trying to prevent is that because our deputies don't understand certain cues is perceived to be a threat when it's not a threat,” said Lieutenant Mark Junkerman.

That's where Glenn comes in. Glenn is a 26-year-old young man, with autism. He is key player this training provided by Pathfinders for Autism.

“We teach a lot of de-escalation how they can slow things down and how they can help an individual that is in crisis, how they can help calm the individual down so that the entire situation is deescalated,” said Shelly Allred with Pathfinders for Autism.

Through Glenn, officers can see how someone with autism may respond differently.

Officers learn how the actions of someone with autism can easily be misinterpreted.

Instructor Drew Myers has a close connection with Glenn. He is Glenn’s dad through adoption.

Detective Janelle Myers, Is Glenn's mom. For years, Janelle dealt with the challenges of raising a child with autism, as a single mom.

Then, she met Drew.

That's why Janelle sees a unique opportunity, and as a police officer, and a mom.

“I want to know that I am actively involved in the training of the officers because I know how I want them to act,” she said.

A family, committed to a cause.

Sinclair Broadcasting is committed to the health and well-being of our viewers, which is why we’re introducing Sinclair Cares. Every month we’ll bring you information about the “Cause of the Month,” including topical information, education, awareness and prevention.

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