Thursday, November 22, 2007

Law Enforcement and Autism - Communication Not Tasers

In Canada controversy rages over the use of Tasers. The world has seen the Paul Pritchard video of the death by police arrest of Polish speaking Robert Dziekanski who was Tasered and physically subdued .... to death ... by a group of RCMP officers in a Vancouver airport. As was evident in the video Mr. Dziekanski did not speak English. 18 people in Canada have died after being Tasered since 2003. There are other serious issues raised by the video including why the RCMP fired Taser shots at the gentleman when he appeared to pose no threat to them.

The use of Tasers and other force to "subdue" persons with communication difficulties should be of particular concern to parents and caregivers of persons with autism. As reported in Lessons in autism planned for police " Law enforcement officials in California and Ohio who were not trained in dealing with autism used stun guns to subdue two children with autism earlier this year." The article advertises workshops planned in New Jersey by Dennis Debbaudt who has worked extensively with police forces and whose workshops will focus on "ways to successfully resolve a call involving a person with autism, Asperger's syndrome and other developmental disabilities. The primary goal is to make the community a safer place for people with developmental disabilities."


jypsy said...

Although I sent invitations to New Brunswick Law Enforcement officials to attend Dennis' seminars here, none did to my knowledge. PEI's Law Enforcement officers are now trained, those trained are training others and Autism Recognition and Response is now part of the Atlantic Police Academy training. Every RCMP Detachment and Municipal Police Department on PEI has a copy of Dennis' Law Enforcement Roll Call Training Video as do the trainers at the Police & Fire Fighting Academies. Every cop has an Autism Wallet card, every Police vehicle has a specially designed picture communication card (Firefighters & EMS Personnel have both cards as well). Making "the community a safer place for people with developmental disabilities" was my priority as well. If I can pull it off, surely the NB Autism Society can. Go for it.

jypsy said...

It appears that the Federal Government is funding Nation wide Alzheimer & Dementia recognition and response training for first responders. I wonder why the Canadian Autism Society and/or Canada's National Autism organizations can't get/hasn't gotten such a program funded.

We did it because I wasn't willing to wait for what "should" be done to be done. I didn't feel it should have been up to Alex and I to do it, but if we hadn't, no one would have.