Brief Report: Descriptive Analysis of Law Enforcement Officers’ Experiences with and Knowledge of Autism [2018]

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may interact with law enforcement officers (LEOs) as victims of crime, witnesses to crime, or suspects of crime. Interactions between LEOs and those with ASD may go awry which raises questions about levels of training, experiences, and knowledge acquired by LEOs. Seventy-two LEOs reported on their experiences and training related to ASD and completed a survey of autism knowledge. The majority (72.2%) of LEOs reported no formal training for interacting with individuals with ASD. For LEOs responding to calls involving ASD, officers with prior training reported better preparation. Officers’ responses to the knowledge survey varied considerably. Results support the need for formalized training in ASD for LEOs.

Lauren Gardner, Jonathan M. Campbell, June Westdal
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, March 2019, Volume 49, Issue 3