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Sunday, January 3, 2016

An Incident in Kodiak

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss interactions between police and autistic people.  Police officers need training to respond appropriately.  When they do not, things get out of hand.

In Anchorage, Samantha Angaiak reports at KTUU-TV:
Police reports, video and audio recordings obtained today through a public records request reveal new information about a controversial Sept. 16 encounter between Kodiak police and a man with autism.
The case led some community members here to accuse police of excessive use of force when they used "OC spray" -- or pepper spray -- to subdue and handcuff 28-year-old Nick Pletnikoff during a struggle. In newly released footage from police body cameras, Pletnikoff can be heard yelling "I want to go home!" as officers attempt to restrain him.

His mother said she was appalled by the footage.
No charges were filed against Pletnikoff once officers learned of his autism, police wrote.

Judy Pletnikoff tells Channel 2 her son was in the area attempting to check the mail before the encounter. She said he does not attempt break into cars, as police wrote, but simply looks at them.

In a statement describing the release of the records, the city of Kodiak writes: "The videos of the struggle between the officers and the (28-year-old0 may be uncomfortable to watch. However, we hope the viewers will understand there is more to the story than the media’s version that this young man was assaulted on his way to check the mail." 

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Liz Raines reports at KTVA-TV:
The officers involved claimed they didn’t know 29-year-old Nicholas Pletnikoff is mentally disabled — though one of the officers later told the others he knew Pletnikoff had “special needs” before he was pepper sprayed.

A spokeswoman for the Anchorage Police Department, Renee Oistad, didn’t want to comment on how the Kodiak Police Department responded to the situation, but did describe APD’s general policies when detaining someone — which were very different from the behavior of Kodiak police.

In Anchorage, Oistad said police have a dialogue-first policy.

“It doesn’t matter who we take into custody, we always tell them what we’re doing and why — always,” Oistad said.

Oistad said learning to recognize someone with different mental abilities is one of the first skills officers are taught. Beyond that training, APD has a specialized group of officers known as the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT).

“These folks are also trained to recognize people that process information differently and are called out to scenes as opposed to having to go hands-on,” Oistad said.