Law Enforcement Training for Helping Autistic and IDD Individuals

The Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT) is hosting an upcoming training session to help law enforcement officers develop strategies when assisting individuals with autism and intellectual development disorder (IDD).

An upcoming educational session to be hosted by LGIT, will offer public safety officials training to understand how to respond to the needs of autistic and neurodivergent individuals. The event is to be held on October 30th and will be instructed by Neal Lichter from Pathfinders for Autism. These types of programs fulfill one of the major pillars of community based policing, which is to educate and train officers to recognize signs of mental distress or crisis that are sometimes mistaken as aggression or resistance.

Being able to make these types of distinctions is vital for officers to establish de-escalation protocols quickly when a situation demands urgency. These training sessions are not new but are certainly an opportunity to highlight the importance of even more resources and funding to train public safety officials on these kinds of best practices.

A bill from the 2023 legislative session created a fund for local law enforcement agencies to access resources for just these types of educational programs, SB 580. MACo had the opportunity to support this bill, and it eventually passed, making its way to the Governor’s Office.  Not only did it look to address training for officers to recognize the mental health needs of civilians but also the needs and warning signs of crisis in their peers. While the establishment of the fund was a victory, an appropriation for these resources would be the next best step for this effort in the 2024 legislative session.