Autism Training for Law Enforcement – On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, officers and dispatchers of the Lacey Township Police Department attended “Autism Shield” training taught by Gary Weitzen who is the executive director of the nonprofit organization Parents of Autistic Children (POAC). POAC provides recreational and support services to children with autism and their families as well as free training for the autism community. The educational session was held at the Lacey Township Recreation Building and is the first of two sessions being held to ensure all officers and dispatchers of the police department receive the valuable training. The instruction focused on the most prominent concerns related to public safety personnel effectively and appropriately interacting with a child or adult who may be classified within the autism spectrum.
Officers and dispatchers of the Lacey Township Police Department have participated in autism training in both 2013 and 2014, but this program differed significantly. The expertise of Executive Director Weitzen of POAC provided a perspective otherwise not available to police department personnel.
In 2013, the Lacey Township Police Department added the POAC “Autism Emergency Information Form” to the police department website under the Resident Resources section, and many residents have completed the form which has proved helpful in several instances. Parents, guardians, and/or family members of a person with autism are encouraged to complete the form and submit it to the police department. The completed forms are confidentially maintained at police dispatch and are quickly referenced should a need arise.
Parents, guardians, and/or family members of a person with autism should also be aware of the Project Lifesaver Program run through the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department. The Project Life Saver program involves the use of a wristband that emits a signal making it possible to quickly locate a person should he or she go missing. CLICK HERE for more information on Project Life Saver.