By Hadas Kuznits
CAMDEN, NJ (CBS) — In honor of autism awareness month, The Camden County police department conducted special autism training sessions for their police officers.
Camden County police chief Scott Thomson tells says he believes autism training will one day be a prerequisite in all police departments.
“It’s better to educate and equip our officers with the ability to quickly recognize those that have autism,” Thomson said.
Pat Mead is the father of an autistic son and says he’s thrilled officers are now being educated about how to handle the specific needs of autistic individuals.
“Autistic individuals react adversely to strange noises, changes in the surroundings, stern talks,” said Mead.
He also talks about his encounters with officers.
“It’s scary, to say the least. You kind of don’t know why you’ve been pulled over but you kinda figure it has something to do with my son’s affliction,” Mead continued.
Camden County police chief Scott Thomson says the goal is to offer officers the tools needed to de-escalate a situation.
“If they’re seeing indicators, that they’ve now been taught in the classroom, of what to look for and the person’s not complying, the person’s not being resistant, it’s more than likely caused by an underlying condition that they have. Now let me refer to these other tactics which are predisposed to have a better outcome.”
Thomson says with recent increases in people diagnosed with autism, he wouldn’t be surprised if one day autism trainings in police departments across the country became commonplace.