TPD and Autism Society hold special training session

Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 5:34 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The Tucson Police Department (TPD) hosted a training session for officers who may respond to a call involving an individual with autism.

The session was held in partnership with the Autism Society of Southern Arizona, the first time both organizations have worked together.

Members of the Autism Society spoke with officers on different approaches and methods used to deal with situations involving autistic people.

“A lot of times it seems to be like a domestic situation of families just needing help,” says Kate Elliott, executive director of the Autism Society of Southern Arizona.

“Having an understanding of how to come into that situation, knowing how to make it sensory friendly and how to approach an autistic person, equips the officers with the tools they need to help in that situation.”

Sgt. Troy Lansdale was among the officers at the training session, sharing how important the training is to keep everyone safe.

“It’s dealing with individuals that are high-risk and it’s ensuring that our members have an adequate and appropriate foundation,” said Lansdale. “So when we respond to those calls, [which] it’s not something we typically see, they have a baseline training so it’s a beneficial outcome for both the public and the agency.”

The training session also highlighted the importance that community plays. Elliott shared important information when someone encounters an autistic person in distress.

“Asking if the person actually wants your help, making sure if anybody is being harmed, is the person in trouble, are they harming anybody else or any property,” Elliott says, “just really questioning what’s the severity of the situation and do we actually need to involve anyone else or do will they eventually be able to calm themselves down.”

Sgt. Lansdale said that with the increasing number of calls concerning autistic people across the state, officers want to be able to help and provide a public service and resources for families who need them.

Officers at the session also expressed their gratitude to the Autism Society and look forward to more partnerships in the future.

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