CARENCRO, La. (KLFY) Training police to deal with issues of mental health has long been a priority for many departments.
That’s why seven police departments from throughout Louisiana attended an eight hour autism course in Carencro.
Carencro Police Chief David Anderson says his officers took part in the training because they’re seeing more encounters with both adults and children diagnosed with autism.
Chief Anderson says he’s glad his department was able to host the autism training for police officers.
“Back in the 1980’s, one out of 15 hundred people were diagnosed with autism. Today it’s one in 59.”
The chief says Carencro school resource officers are also being trained.
Anderson says unfortunately many signs of autism mimic alcohol or drug impairment.
“it’s important for that police officer to be able to identify that and say wait let me slow down a minute this could be a person that could be showing signs of being autistic.”
The chief says while there’s lots of training about impaired drivers; there also needs to more training on mental health.
The chief explains that the experts point out the signs of autism can be similar to impairment. The signs include: the person having tantrums or being distressed for no apparent reason, a lack of eye contact or the person may be non-verbal or have limited verbal skills.
Autism Society of Acadiana Board of Directors President Carolyn Tate says the organization plans to also host a law enforcement autism training as well.