Police learn new tactics to help children on autism spectrum

Regional News

WACO, Texas – Crisis Intervention courses help ease communication between officers and people in need – especially in a high stress situation.

On Wednesday evening, officers sat in a Crisis Intervention course – a new way for officers to help those in our community who may have developmental or cognitive challenges.

“So all law enforcement in the last training cycle were required to take the 40-hour course, and we give them this time, where they get to learn specifically about autism,” says Waco police officer Bradley Delange.

For Tres Jackson, it’s important for him that law enforcement gets this kind of training.

“And it’s pretty common that they’re out to people who are like me, because I know some who have been arrested by police because they were doing something they should have done,” Jackson says.

On his driver’s license, it has a notification to alert the Police Department that Tres has communication challenges because of autism.

“It tips off the officer in a really bold way, that we see that on the license. And in addition, when we run that driver’s license, our dispatcher will tell us that that subject has a communication delay,” says Delange.

Last week the District Attorney’s Office donated Autism Sensory Kits to the Waco Police Department.

“Anything in this bag, it’s going to soothe them. It’s going to disarm them. It’s going to de-escalate the situation and help me connect,” says Anne Jackson, ADA with the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office.

Jackson and her son Tres travel all over the Central Texas area to give presentations for law enforcement on the importance of proper communication between officers and those who have special needs.

“I hope [what] we’re building is an awareness of this narrow diversity of this distinct group of people who don’t act the way we expect them to,” Anne says.

By speaking with the local law agencies, Jackson hopes this will help officers understand the behavior and how ineffective communication, with people who have developmental or cognitive challenges, can be harmful.

Waco PD has more than half of the department trained to use the Autism Sensory Kit bags. They hope to start using the kits in December once everyone has already gone through the training.

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