WEST LIBERTY, Iowa (KWWL) – The West Liberty Police Department is training first responders in the area about autism.
The training is for police, fire, emergency services and dispatch.
West Liberty Police Chief Kary Kinmonth said the city’s had high profile cases, particularly missing person cases, involving autistic people. That’s why he said it’s important for first responders to get training in interactions, response and situations involving people who have autism.
Chief Kinmonth said he’s been in law enforcement for nearly 30 years. But at the academy, he never learned how to interact with people who have mental disabilities. They may respond to crisis situations differently.
“Sometimes, you know, we wear all this shiny stuff, we have the badges and the blinking lights on the cars and all that stuff, and it’s overwhelming for anybody, but especially for somebody with autism,” he said.
The free training on Friday focused on identifying autism and reviewing autism symptoms. Speakers from the Autism Center at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital gave their perspectives and offered advice for first responders.
During the month of April, the West Liberty Police Department sold special edition autism police patches. They raised $3,000. On Friday, they presented their check to the Autism Center.l.
While this was the first time West Liberty offered autism safety training, they said they hope to provide it every year.