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Legislature Approves Autism Training for Law Enforcement Officers

May 5th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
Last July, a police officers commands for an autistic man to lay down fell on deaf ears. the suspect didn’t know what he was being asked to do.
The officer fired… hitting a caretaker in the leg.
The Officer, Jonathan Aledda was charged last month with attempted manslaughter and misdemeanor culpable negligence.
Months before the shooting, state lawmakers failed to pass legislation calling for more police training for police who encounter those on the autistic spectrum.
They aren’t making that mistake this year.
“The rate of birth with children falling under the autism spectrum is just going up so much that we knew that we had to put something on the books immediately,” said bill sponsor Representative Evan Jenne.
Victoria Zepp has a son with autism. She worries what could happen if her son were to have an encounter with officers.
“You know the fear that would go through my mind if my son were stopped and panicked or didn’t understand what the person was saying,” said Zepp.
Zepp said the negative encounters aren’t the result of bad officers, but a lack of training.
The Department of Law Enforcement is currently developing training for officers in how to identify and deal with situations involving a person with autism.
“They’re already in the middle of working on it already in anticipation of this becoming law. So it’ll be here sooner than later,” said Representative Jenne.
There isn’t a mandatory amount of training specified in the bill, but Zepp says she’ll take quality over quantity on the issue.
“I’m less concerned with the hours. More concerned with what is that going to look like? How is that going to come together,” said Zepp.
The autism training would become a part of law officers 40 hours of continued employment training they receive every four years.
The bill passed the Senate earlier today and is now on it’s way to the Governor’s desk.

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