Young people on the spectrum and the law enforcement community can, and do, come into contact all the time. The resultant interaction can be beneficial for both groups or it can become problematic. The question is why it would be a problem and how can we change the dynamic to ensure the encounters are positive? The answer lies in understanding the goals and mission of law enforcement as well as the understanding about the autism spectrum community by law enforcement.
While there is certainly more information available today than there was only 10 years ago, the reality is the training programs that offer insight and guidance are still not as prevalent as they could be. Police agencies are overwhelmed with demands for their services. In many places the local police department has become the “go to” destination for anything and everything that goes in in a town or city.
From finding missing kids, to domestic violence, to street crime, to the more mundane calls such as an older resident who can’t get their hot water to come on, law enforcement officers are called on to deal with all of these problems. They are taxed very thin, training dollars are scarce, and police leadership has to make choices about what they train on.
The good news here is that learning about kids on the spectrum and how to serve this community is on the radar and is something that makes it to the agenda sheets of many agencies. What they need to move the ball down the field and increase these…