The Clive Police Department is aware that when it comes to interacting with the public, one size does not fit all: Many factors, including disabilities, have an impact on how people respond, not just to police officers but to one another.
It is an awareness they want to spread to the community, and so the department has decided to observe Autism Awareness Month with a “Light Up the Blue” campaign.
“Police officers are asked, on a daily basis, to interact with people in crisis. Sometimes, those people may have cognitive impairments that make it more difficult to come to a successful resolution,” Police Chief Michael Venema told the Clive News in an email. “Autism is one disorder that may come into play. It is estimated that one in 68 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. We feel it’s important to raise awareness of this disorder with the community and our officers.”
The Clive Police Benevolent Association (PBA’s) Facebook page notes that autism is a condition that exists on a spectrum, it does not present only one face and people who have the condition can exhibit certain behaviors — such as not responding to their names, not looking people in the eye or not recognizing or exhibiting normal nonverbal social cues — that can cause issues for law enforcement if they do not understand the disorder.
Therefore, the police department has partnered with Balance Autism, 1860 NW 118 St., to train its officers on how to interact with people with autism.
Balance Autism also sponsored one of the police cars specially decorated to call attention to the issue this month, when police will be handing out educational materials about autism as well as selling patches to raise funds for research into autism and services for those who have it and their families.
Venema said Fastsigns, 1791 NW 86 St., designed the car wraps and installed them with donated labor.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work with our local businesses on these important topics,” he said.
To purchase a patch, which costs $5, visit the Clive Police Department at 8505 Harbach Blvd.