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 a case that has attracted national attention, Salt Lake City police, responding to a mother’s call about a mental health crisis, shot and seriously injured her unarmed 13-year-old son with autism back in September.
While that shooting has increased demands for more crisis training, it is already a requirement for some Bay Area agencies.
It’s an essential lesson for three dozen Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies and academy recruits.
Their teacher is Brad Boardman, executive director of the Morgan Autism Center, a school and day program for children and adults on the autism spectrum.
“Having an understanding of what autism is — what autism looks like and challenges associated with autism — will help them get through those interactions in a positive way,” Boardman said.
The sheriff’s department voluntarily added the autism workshop 15 years ago as an academy requirement. All deputies — more than 1,150 of them — will have taken the course by early 2021.
It’s part of the department’s three-day crisis intervention training.