Alton PD to begin autism awareness training for first responders


ALTON, Texas (ValleyCentral) – As April marks Autism Awareness Month, the Alton Police Department aims to spread education on how to appropriately and safely handle a police arrest. traffic with someone who might have autism.

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Alton PD offers a training course titled “Autism and Law Enforcement, First Responder Safety and Risk Management”.

The course was designed by Dennis Debbaudt who along with Sergeant Ruben Lozano with Alton PD said he started this training program because he has a son with autism.

Debbaudt traveled to a multitude of states to spread this educational course far and wide.

While in Florida, Sgt. Lozano said Debbaudt witnessed two incidents in which law enforcement apprehended an autistic person, with officers believing they were arresting someone who was “provocative” and “not listening to orders.”

Although incidents similar to these have not been seen in the Rio Grande Valley, Sgt. Lozano said he wants everyone to be prepared for a situation. Thus, he was appointed as an instructor for awareness training and decided to bring her back to RGV.

sergeant. Lozano told ValleyCentral that this program has come down to RGV in previous years, but has not become an annual event.

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“In the Rio Grande Valley, we haven’t really seen a big push for autism training and I’m lucky to work with an agency that is really pushing it, so it’s an honor to be able to set up these courses,” Sgt. Lozano.

sergeant. Lozano plans to offer this program at least twice a year starting this year. He said there is not enough training for first responders in this area of ​​education, but that all changes with this program.

One way the community can help officers detect someone with autism is to put a sticker on their car indicating that someone in the vehicle has autism.

sergeant. Lozano said Alton PD has had a safety sticker program in place for the past four years and it has been successful.

Not only does the department offer stickers for people with autism, but also for people with hearing loss, diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease/dementia.

You don’t have to be an Alton resident to pick up one of their safety stickers from the police department.

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When you pick up a sticker, you will need to fill out a form. When the form is completed, what is shown on the bumper sticker will also be associated with the license plate when an agent runs it through the system.

If you’re not comfortable putting a sticker on your car, Sgt. Lozano recommends requesting a “communication barrier” symbol from the DMV. The symbol would appear on a Texas driver’s license.

The Autism Education Event will be held Thursday, April 21 at the Alton Recreation Center from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

sergeant. Lozano said there were only 40 spots available and they would be on a first-come, first-served basis.

To register, send an email [email protected].

The program is free for everyone.

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