Richmond Police Department Partners with the ASCV for a Law Enforcement Safety Seminar

We were proud to co-host our first ever Law Enforcement Safety Seminar for teens and adults with autism this August with the Richmond City Police Department.  It was a day filled with hands-on learning opportunities and meaningful connections and conversations.

This unique event was designed for autistic teens and adults, parents, and caregivers to practice interacting with law enforcement officers and learn about available safety resources. Members of the Autism community gained real-world knowledge and experience to interact with and seek support from law enforcement professionals. 

ASCV Executive Director Ann Flippin shares: “This seminar is an invaluable opportunity to help break down barriers, enhance communication, and strengthen relationships between the autism and law enforcement communities.”

As part of the Richmond Police Department’s core values of creating public safety through community engagement and continuing to foster trust and nurture legitimacy, this first-of-its-kind seminar helped both law enforcement and the parents and caregivers of people with autism to better understand how to communicate and engage with each other.

“As a father of a child on the autism spectrum, I empathize with parents and caregivers and the unique challenges we face in caring for someone you love who is differently abled,” said Chief of Police Rick Edwards. “As law enforcement officers, we are here to serve and protect everyone. Bringing parents and caregivers together, along with officers and community stakeholders, helped us to build meaningful relationships and foster open dialogue that will provide us all a better understanding of how to approach situations and interact with people with autism effectively. Our goal with this seminar was to build confidence in police interactions and provide more positive outcomes as we strengthen our service with and for this community.”

Participants practiced traffic and pedestrian stops, learned about what to expect if attending court, and engaged in small group discussions about calling 911, steps to take if you witness a crime or are the victim of a crime, and what to expect during behavioral crisis intervention.

The Richmond Police Department also spotlighted the new virtual technology used to train officers in various scenarios. Parents and caregivers experienced real-life simulated scenarios just as a law enforcement officer would. Some of the highlights of the 3-hour event included:

  • Practicing scenarios, including a pedestrian stop and traffic stop
  • Learning about officer response tactics in a virtual reality scenario for caregivers
  • Reviewing personal rights when interacting with law enforcement
  • Learning about how to call for emergency services
  • Participants received materials, including a personalized Autism identification card to present to first responders during an emergency
  • A panel Q&A session

We would like to extend a big thank you to all of the members of our autism community and officers who participated, as well as our speakers and panelists: Chief of Police Rick Edwards, Office of the Commonwealth’s First Precinct Prosecutor Joan Burroughs, Dr. Amber Vernon of the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority, caregiver and former law enforcement officer William Hamilton, and self-advocate and ASCV member Kyle Cope. We look forward to continuing these important conversations!

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