Last week Independent With Autism met with our local police department in Lake Forest, IL. We have recently partnered with them hoping to bring awareness to both sides of the equation. Our first meeting was for Rebecca Weaver, CAS to present to about 10 Juvenile officers information about those with Autism and crisis intervention.
The interaction was wonderful. The officers were eager to learn and had great questions. Rebecca provided helpful information regarding myths of Autism, statistics and crisis prevention. This, of course, is very difficult since we know the range of challenges those with Autism have is wide and officers sometimes have a split second to determine how best to handle a situation. It is usually during the climax of rage or meltdown that officers are called upon to intervene.
If an officer is called to a situation where the individual’s actions are a danger to himself/herself or others the police must rely on their training. Even if they are aware the individual has Autism they must do whatever they have been trained to do to de-escalate the situation and keep all those involved safe. What we’re hoping to foster is an important dialogue. We learned the department is aware of the Autistic community and wants to know you better – they want to identify those that are dealing with special circumstances so they can support you appropriately.
The Lake Forest Police Department have developed a Crisis Intervention Team to deal with situations that may require additional options when confronted.
“The CIT program in Lake Forest was started to recognize, identify those in the community who need assistance. The Lake Forest Police Department has set up partnerships with several outreach programs in the area, as well as the schools in our community.” Lake Forest Police Department.
Our local department has developed “special concerns response information sheet” that can be filled out prior to a crisis situation. This is where things, understandably, become difficult. No one wants to be stigmatized. The information provided is intended to keep everyone safe, not exploit or embarrass anyone. Information is given to dispatch and support specialists embedded within the department so that additional resources can be called if necessary. The idea is to avoid arrest or detainment if other arrangments are appropriate. It is easier to make these determinations if there is awareness before a critical scenario is reached. The form has areas to identify specific triggers, ie: sensitivity to light or touch, as well as suggestions for techniques that might work with the individual to calm and de-escalate.
Our next event will be an opportunity for teens and adults with special needs to meet police officers and discuss what to do if they are ever stopped by an officer. We are excited to be partnering with the Lake Forest Library (@LakeForestLib) and the Lake Forest Police Department June 23, 2018. Contact us at email@example.com if you would like more information.
We hope other police departments are providing similar programs for their officers. You might take a minute to contact your local department to see what’s available!
If you would like to know more about the Lake Forest Police Department’s CIT Program or would like information about how to fill out the special concerns response information sheet for a family member, please contact Commander Rick Anderson at AndersoR@cityoflakeforest.com, Detective Wendy Dumont DumontW@cityoflakeforest.com or LCPC Linda Porter PorterL@cityoflakeforest.com. You may also call the police non-emergency number, 847-234-2601, and ask for a CIT member.