MARTINSBURG — Beginning June 13, safe interaction training for law enforcement and people with intellectual or developmental disabilities began statewide, as officers took the lead in s arm yourself with better training for the interactions that are becoming more and more commonplace.
The statewide training initiative is designed to provide comprehensive training for law enforcement officers on safe interactions with people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders.
“The need for training for law enforcement officers dealing with autism spectrum disorders is critical for 21st century policing,” said First Sgt. KG Murray of the West Virginia State Police said in a statement from West Virginia University Health Services. “As parents of a young adult and a teenager with ASD, my wife and I hope that the ASD awareness training will be a very effective educational tool for all law enforcement in West Virginia, where most of our encounters with people with ASD are positive. With this training, West Virginia can be the beacon for the rest of the nation in ASD training and education for the forces. law enforcement and all first responders.
This safe interaction training for law enforcement and people with intellectual or developmental disabilities is offered in partnership with West Virginia University, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, and the West Virginia State Police.
Berkeley County Sheriff Nathan Harmon agreed that the training needs to be taught and better understood by all officers.
“We are seeing this more and more. I don’t need our officers to misinterpret this and identify him,” Harmon said. “I saw the need a long time ago and was surprised to find that they had never had autism awareness training.”
He added that it makes him proud to take the necessary steps to understand better.
“Having a child with a disability myself, I really respect any training that encompasses the ability to identify people with disabilities,” Harmon said. “I pray to God she’s never in a situation where things get worse just because they didn’t get it.”
He added: “Being able to not rush into a situation and identify red flags and indicators and pick them up – you have to look for them.”
To view the full version, visit https://www.hsc.wvu.edu.