Washington – Police officers are now using virtual reality to learn the best ways to interact with people with autism and de-escalate situations that could quickly turn awry.
A new training simulation using virtual reality headsets is being rolled out by Axon, the company best known for developing the Taser. The company is partnering with Chicago police to train its officers and plans to make it available to police departments across the U.S.
“The ability to tell the difference between someone who’s acting in an unusual way that may be due to their autism versus someone who could be a risk to you can be a really fine line,” said David Kearon of the advocacy group Autism Speaks. “When you’re trying to make that judgment very quickly, that’s where we see mistakes made.”
Axon plans to provide autism training free with the purchase of Taser devices. Hundreds of law enforcement agencies already use the company’s other products, like Tasers and body camera.