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Special Training Helps Officers Better Respond To Calls Involving People With Autism

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GLENPOOL, Oklahoma -

Dozens of area officers are getting specialized training on how to respond to calls involving a person on the autism spectrum.

For a police officer, every stop and call are different, so their approach has to be different.

About 50 officers will get that training at the Glenpool Conference center.

Every time an officer suits up, they go into a brand new day. Each stop and each call out is different.

From the time they graduate the academy until they leave the force, the learning and education doesn't stop.

And for some officers, they are training to respond to situations involving a person on the autism spectrum.

“The best way I can describe it is as a law enforcement officer, if I give a command of stop or sit down, I expect an immediate response,” said OU Police Department Sgt. Cory Sutton. “People on the autism spectrum may not be able to give that immediate response."

Last April, a Florida officer shot a caregiver as the man tried to step in for his autistic client.

It's situations like that Sgt. Sutton wants to avoid. He's leading the training.

"From a law enforcement perspective, we get really busy when someone doesn't immediately follow the command I give them,” he added.

According to the Autism Society, 3.5 million Americans live with an Autism spectrum disorder.

"We're much more statistically libel to find someone on the autism spectrum than in the diabetic realm as far as enforcement goes,” said Glenpool Police Sgt. Charles Smith.

Smith says if a subject isn't following commands they typically have just a moment to assess the situation.

"It just takes a moment for training like this to kick in and a guy says, ‘I remember this,’" he stated.

They've had to juggle a few schedules but the entire Glenpool force is going through the training.

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