Don't Taze me, I am not Defiant, I am Autistic: An Analysis of Police Officer Training and Knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorder
AuthorJosifko, Sara L.
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Recent high profile police incidents involving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have led to police practice and policy changes regarding the training police officers are expected to receive. The rate of ASD has increased significantly in the past decade, and police officers are now interacting with the ASD community more frequently. Nevada has recently been ranked the state with the 15th highest ASD rate. Thus it is important to understand officer perception and training, and whether that training is adequate. This study discusses three aspects of officer training in Nevada. First, are officers able to receive training for ASD? Second, if officers do receive training are they more accurate when identifying the characteristics associated with ASD? Third, are officers who have contact with individuals with ASD outside of work more accurate when identifying the characteristics associated with the disorder? The variables were tested using a comparison of mean tests to determine the average in scores and a multiple regression was used to determine which variables influenced the officer’s ability to identify ASD. Results indicate that ASD training is available in Nevada, but many officers choose not to participate. The results also indicate that those who do participate are no more accurate at identifying ASD characteristics than those who have not received the training. Officers who have frequent contact with individuals with ASD are also not significantly better at identifying the characteristics associated with the disorder. This study raises questions about law enforcement training and policy, and will hopefully contribute to the growing body of literature involving police and those on the Autism spectrum