April is National Autism Acceptance Month and the U-M Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS) is using this time to share the training that our officers do in order to have better interactions with individuals on the autism spectrum.
On Monday, April 12, UMPD Chief Robert Neumann joined police agencies across Michigan and went to the State Capitol with Autism Advocate Xavier DeGroat to support the signing of three bills that will help facilitate safer and more informed interactions between police officers and individuals with autism.
Starting July 1, citizens with a communication impediment or on the autism spectrum now have tools available for their interaction with law enforcement in Michigan. The bills that Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed allow their Driver’s License, License Plate, or State ID to be detected by the police so that the officer knows ahead of everything that they are about to approach or currently are near an individual on the autism spectrum.
And this is not the first time that DPSS has worked with Xavier DeGroat. Xavier’s advocacy in combination with DPSS Michigan Medicine Security Lt. Maureen Muysenberg and U-M Police Officer Pete Pressly, initiated efforts across the division for DPSS officers to receive training that give them guidance to help identify people with autism, techniques to help officers interact with autistic individuals, and training to give officers an understanding of autism characteristics and behavior.
“There are members of our staff who have children with autism, and like Xavier, they have been great champions of these efforts,” said Chief Neumann. “This is a great example of how we can educate our officers by having a deeper understanding of all of the people who make up our community. It is by the community and police working together that we can provide exceptional service to everyone,” he said.
If you would like to learn more about autism, please visit: https://www.autism-society.org/what-is/