NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- The North Charleston Police Department (NCPD) is undergoing specialized training this week to enhance its response to people with mental health disorders and special needs.
A representative from the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs taught a course Wednesday morning on responding to children and adults with autism.
“First we start with characteristics of autism, and then we go into categorizing behaviors of individuals with that diagnosis, and then how an officer can gain compliance in that situation,” DDSN Autism Director, Stephanie Turner said.
This course is first for the department and part of an effort to increase inclusivity and understanding.
“We’ve had some training, but it’s been very little and that doesn’t go very far,” NCPD Corporal Thomas Bennett said.
Officers were handed a card they can carry around with them while on the job, with pointers to help them relate to someone on the spectrum.
“Kind of reminders of different ways to speak to these individuals, starting with more complex questions. If they can’t respond to that, take a shorter route, using movements that they can identify,” NCPD Patrol Officer, Vincent Marcra said.
Some say they believe the training should be required for every officer in South Carolina.
“I think it needs to be mandatory throughout the state for anybody who deals with people with special needs,” Bennett said.