UKPD Receives Police Autism Community Training
Americas, Misc., News, August 15 2017
LEXINGTON, KY.: The University of Kentucky Police Departmentreceived Police Autism Community Training (PACT) yesterday by Abbey Love, an educational psychology doctoral student at UK and creator of PACT. The two-hour session included classroom instruction, scenario-based simulations and visual materials focused on improving miscommunication among law enforcement officials and individuals with autism.
Love taught a classroom of 30 UKPD officers how the brain processes information differently for those with autism, which can lead to deficits in social communication and repetitive patterns of behavior. She deconstructed behavior typical in individuals with autism and gave proactive solutions for law enforcement to effectively communicate in a way those individuals would understand.
“There is difficulty in interpreting behaviors during high-tense situations,” Love said. “These difficulties can be decreased with proper training, education and possibly through increasing interactions with individuals with autism.”
Growing up with a sibling with autism, Love had a lifelong interest in raising awareness of the disorder and finding creative ways to help others communicate effectively to her brother. Since developing PACT, Love has trained nearly 300 law enforcement officers and recruits with Lexington Police, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, and three police departments outside of Lexington. She has also coordinated five meet-and-greet opportunities in Lexington that provided a safe space for police officers and individuals with autism to practice positive interactions outside of a crisis or emergency situation.
UKPD learned about Abbey Love’s autism research through a UKNOW article and reached out to her directly. Her teachings deepened the existing knowledge base of UKPD officers who completed prior ASD sessions. Topics included statistics, general behavior, and best practices, and a quick reference guide was also distributed to participants.
“We appreciate the service UK officers give to our community and thank them for giving us time to talk about something that we feel is crucial to the safety of our loved ones,” Love said.
UKPD officers are also undergoing Crisis Intervention Team training to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness with a primary focus on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. Furthermore, the police department is in discussion with UK’s Office of LGBTQ Resources to receive SafeZone training and finding ways to enhance inclusivity and understanding between students and law enforcement.
“Training has always played an integral role in our agency,” said UKPD Chief Joe Monroe. “We are very fortunate to benefit from the innovative research and collaboration at UK.”
For more infoamtion, go to uky.edu/uk4ky.