Montgomery County families of children with autism have been working hard on building a stronger relationship with the police, writes Shawnette Wilson for FOX 29 Philadelphia.
Among them is Angela McFarland, mother of 20-year-old Jake. He is a barista and the owner of Coffee Closet with Jake in Norristown.
“Every time he’s not within eyeshot, I worry,” said Angela. “I want to help law enforcement understand what our kids are like and what they need. I want to help them be able to do their job so that they’re safe. We also want the kids to be safe.”
Angela organized a meet-up at the family business for a conversation with the families living with autism and nearby police departments.
Speakers suggested police use de-escalating techniques when dealing with people with autism such as giving space and slowing down speech. Videos of police responses to individuals with autism in other states that did not end well were also screened.
“We, in the law enforcement community, should be doing a better job of getting this information to the officers out on the street and that, to me, is what really hit home,” said Lt. Kenneth Lawless with Norristown Police.
Read more about the outreach at FOX 29 Philadelphia.