Redmond Police Department becomes the first autism-certified agency in WA

1 in 44 children in the United States will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

The Redmond Police Department is the first in the state to earn the Certified Autism Center designation. The certification is granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to agencies that complete autism training.

“I’m proud of our staff’s dedication and commitment to completing this training to ensure we can compassionately serve all members of the Redmond community,” said Police Chief Darrell Lowe.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 44 children in the United States will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)–a neurological disability caused by changes in the brain–while there continues to be a growing number of people who have sensory sensitivities or receive a later in life ASD diagnosis.

Those living with ASD may behave, communicate, interact and learn in ways that are different to those without ASD. The CDC states that abilities vary; some may have advanced conversation skills while others may be nonverbal. ASD, which begins before the age of three years, can last throughout an individual’s life although symptoms may improve with time.

IBCCES’ law enforcement training and certification program reviews ways in which police officers can better understand and identify those who may be autistic, as well as ways to communicate with individuals who fall on the spectrum.

Chief Lowe reached out to IBCCES this past July because of the recognized need for Redmond police officers to receive this training to better assist all community members, said Jill Green, Public Information Officer for RPD.

Part of IBCCES’ goal with law enforcement training is to reduce the use of police force, which is not uncommon for those living with disabilities, including ASD. The CDC states that one in four Americans are living with a disability, and according to the Ruderman Foundation–an organization that advocates for the inclusion of people with disabilities– one third to half of all individuals killed by law enforcement officers are people who have disabilities:

  • In 2015, NYPD officers threw a 17-year-old who has autism, Troy Canales, to the ground outside of his home, where they proceeded to punch him in the face.
  • In 2017, a 10-year-old boy in Worcester, MA., who has autism was pinned down by officers, who continued the use of excessive force by placing their knees on the back of the child’s neck and legs. The boy’s mother called 911 because she wanted her son to see a doctor since he wasn’t taking his medications. A bone in the boy’s arm was broken by responding officers.

The training completed by RPD is designed to enhance the officer’s knowledge and ability to assist and communicate with autistic or sensory-sensitive community members, while reducing the use of police force.

While RPD hired a full-time licensed mental health professional, Susie Kroll, in 2018 to co-respond to calls where social service connections; referrals; de-escalation; and assessment for behavioral health concerns that may be beneficial, Chief Lowe is proud of RPD’s dedication and commitment to ensuring all of Redmond’s community members are compassionately served.

“He [Chief Lowe] encourages law enforcement agencies across the region to complete this critical training to gain better understanding of how to assist autistic individuals in their communities,” said Green.