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Columbia, SC: Police get autism training; officers receive puzzle piece pin

National Alliance on Mental Illness and South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs team up to help police better understand the autistic community.

The Columbia Police Department had a National Alliance on Mental Illness Training session and part of this training included a collaboration with the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (SCDDSN).

During the training officers were given several tools on how to successfully interact with someone who has autism.

According to Stephanie Turner, the director of the Autism Division at SCDDSN, there is a study that shows a significant amount of people with autism have interactions with law enforcement at a young age.

"There is one study that by their twenty first birthday, individuals diagnosed with autism, about one in five or twenty percent have interacted with law enforcement," Turner said. "about five percent of those encounters have resulted in them being detained by law enforcement."

At the end of the training, officers who were in attendance received a puzzle piece pin to put on their uniform as an indicator for citizens to know that the officer underwent autism crisis intervention training….

Turner and her team are headed to Spartanburg next to continue educated law enforcement on their Autism Crisis Intervention Tour.


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