Houston, TX

University of Houston-Clear Lake holds training program for cops to treat individuals with autism

Jackson Cutler

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HOUSTON, TX - University of Houston-Clear Lake alumna Karlie Hinkle implemented a training protocol for UH-Clear Lake University Police and Houston Police Department to focus on how to properly approach autistic people.

Sometimes law enforcement officers may raise intense behavior and unnecessary physical force when they have to deal with autistic people. Regarding this matter, Hinkle disagrees by saying it doesn't have to be like that.

In July, Hinkle's training protocol was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, entitled "Preparing Law Enforcement Officers to Engage Successfully with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Evaluation of a Performance-Based Approach."

She did a pilot study with her successful method by involving an officer at UH-Clear Lake, a middle school resource officer, and chief of security from a community college. That resulted in her confidence to train the Houston Police Department.

So far, Hinkle had done a group training consists of 12 Houston police officers at a time. Six of them completed a role-play and lectures, while the second group of six officers only received the training via a lecture format.

Hinkle said that role-play activities are an effective way to practice building a comfortable. She also has prepared a checklist that she developed together with HPD about steps on how to approach individuals with autism.

The main goal of this training is to build trust and gain compliance with autistic people as well as trying different approaches before involving unnecessary physical means.

As a crisis intervention trainer with HPD, Travis Cogbill said that Hinkle has helped them to level up as a CIT offers. The classes last for 40 hours weeklong with advanced courses that engage them on heart-warming topics in the community.

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