NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - A shooting in Florida raised many questions about the interaction between police and people with autism. Now there is a push to raise awareness within law enforcement.
The video that came out of Miami on July 18 played out like a nightmare for parents of autistic children. Police respond to a 911 call, misinformed and seemingly unwilling to listen. Communication broke down and a life hung in the balance. In this case, a cop shot the caretaker of a man with autism.
Actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband former NFL player Rodney have been brutally honest about the challenges of raising a young child of their own on the spectrum, specifically as it relates to police. Their show "For Peete's Sake" airs on the O Network. In one scene, Holly and Rodney talk to their son RJ about how to respond to police.
Holly said that she wants her children to revere and respect police, but she also wants law enforcement to understand what autism is and need training to know what it looks like in the community.
In the New York area, there are examples of collaborative efforts between the community and police that are working. Westchester County was one of the first counties to tackle autism as standalone training because there are challenges for police. Department Community Mental Health Commissioner Mark Herceg said officers are trained how to engage, what to say and what not to say, how to not take something personally, and more.
If anything positive comes from these situations is that they raise awareness and will force police department to confront issues like autism.