NewsLafayette Parish


Training to improve police encounters for those with autism

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Posted at 4:43 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 20:30:30-05

CARENCRO, La. - The Carencro Police Department hosted their first autism training Wednesday to show officers how to better understand autism. Several different agencies participated including some as far as Jefferson Parish.

"In the 1980s one out of every 1500 people were diagnosed as being autistic," stated Carencro Police Chief David Anderson. "In the late 1990s/2000, it was one in 500, but now it's one out of 59 people that are diagnosed as being autistic. So we feel that with more people being diagnosed as being autistic we want our officers to be better trained on how to deal with these people and make them feel safe around a police officer, also."

Anderson says its important for officers to spot the signs of autism because they can be easily mistaken for possible impairment. Which can lead to an arrest that was preventable.

With one in every 59 people being diagnosed as being autistic, officers are more prone with encountering an autistic person than an impaired driver, Anderson stated.

"A lot of the signs you see with someone who has autism are the same signs you see with someone who is impaired on some type of narcotic," said Chief Anderson. "So we want these officers to tell the difference and dealing with them. Slow down and deescalate things and take their time a little bit more with the autistic person whether it may be an adult or a child."