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Sunday, July 18, 2021

Evaluating Police Training

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

Karlie A. Hinkle & Dorothea C. Lerman have an article at the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders titled  "Preparing Law Enforcement Officers to Engage Successfully with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Evaluation of a Performance-Based Approach."  Abstract:
Law enforcement officers (LEOs) may use physical force unnecessarily or escalate problem behavior when attempting to gain the compliance of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (Copenhaver & Tewksbury in American Journal of Criminal Justice 44:309–333, 2019). Although specialized training may remedy this problem, the relatively small literature on such training programs indicates the need for further research (Railey et al. in Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 2020). This study used simulations with actors to evaluate the outcomes of performance-based instruction on strategies to promote compliance when LEOs respond to calls involving individuals with ASD. Results for three LEOs and 24 police cadets demonstrated the efficacy of behavioral skills training (BST) for teaching LEOs how to interact more effectively with individuals with ASD. Results also suggested that hands-on training should supplement commonly used forms of didactic instruction.
From the article:
To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to directly evaluate a brief hands-on training procedure to teach LEO’s specifc strategies for promoting compliance among individuals with ASD, particularly those with limited communication skills. It should be noted, however, that the training was evaluated within the context of simulations with actors, which may difer signifcantly from simulated interactions with individuals with ASD and from real-life encounters. Thus, future research should include individuals with ASD when evaluating the outcomes of group trainings.... Most notably, the experimenters did not collect data on the performance of the participants outside of the training facility or when they interacted with individuals with ASD, as noted previously. It is not clear whether the participants applied the targeted skills when encountering individuals with ASD or whether these skills maintained over time. Future research should examine generalization and maintenance of these skills to determine if more robust procedures are needed to promote use of the skills when needed and to determine the optimal frequency of refresher trainings
  • Copenhaver, A., & Tewksbury, R. (2019). Interactions between autistic individuals and law enforcement: A mixed-methods exploratory study. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 44, 309–333.
  • Railey, K. S., Love, A. M., & Campbell, J. M. (2020). A systematic review of law enforcement training related to autism spectrum disorder. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities.