LASD personnel undergo training to better handle people with autism and developmental disabilities

Jessica De Nova Image
Saturday, April 15, 2023
LASD personnel undergo training to better handle people with autism
Some members of the LASD participated in an immersive experience to better understand people with autism and developmental disabilities.

INDUSTRY, Calif. (KABC) -- Some members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department participated in an immersive experience to prepare themselves to better handle people with autism and developmental disabilities when on a call for service.

The training was put together by the city of Industry, along with Kate Movius of Autism Interaction Solutions. Movius has first-hand experience because her own son is on the spectrum.

"If there's one thing you take away from the training today it is that you take your time, if it's tactically permissible, and safe for you, to slow way down," said Movius.

Kits that included items such as noise-canceling ear muffs and white boards were given to participants to help them better communicate with someone with autism.

People living with autism also spoke and gave testimonials on their interactions with law enforcement.

And, through role plays, where participants were asked questions typically asked by law enforcement while distractions went on around them to mimic the experience of an autistic person, officers learned what it was like for an autistic person to interact with them.

"It felt a little humbling just knowing the immense pressure these guys are under that struggle with this every day," said Richard Reynoso, of LASD.

The immersive experience comes just a couple of years after two LASD deputies shot and paralyzed an autistic man named Isaias Cervantes, who was also mostly deaf.

Deputies arrived on the scene to Cervantes family's home when 9-1-1 was called during what his family calls a mental health crisis.

The LASD settled the lawsuit brought by Cervantes' family before it was scheduled to go to trial next month.

According to Lt. Anna Dennise Briz, who oversees the LASD's Mental Evaluation Team, the eight hour training is necessary now more than ever. Calls for service involving populations with special needs are on the rise.

"It's extremely important to be aware of these different populations that have special needs so that if they encounter them they will know how to better interact with someone with autism or anybody in crisis," said Briz.