In the upcoming legislative session, a proposed bill aims to require statewide training for law enforcement officers in handling cases involving people with autism. Representative Paula Stark, from Orange-Osceola, sponsors House Bill 829 and plans to advocate for its passage this week.
“Law enforcement currently has an option to have training with people with autism, along with other types of training,” said State Rep. Stark in a statement. “As filed HB 829, we are merely asking for it to be mandated to have four-hours of training, so we have a better opportunity of less negative interactions.”
For over eight years, the Autism Society of Greater Orlando and Osceola has been offering this training to local law enforcement.
“We have been trying to get this training to become a law now for many years,” said Donna Lorman, President of The Autism Society of Greater Orlando & Osceola.
“To see a representative and senator both see the importance of this will absolutely help our kids be safer.”
Supporting the bill, Detective Hector Gonzalez of the Bal Harbour Police Department collaborated with The Autism Society to become an instructor following his middle son’s autism diagnosis. The group has successfully trained over 40,000 law enforcement officers in Florida and Georgia
On Monday, the society conducted an eight-hour training session at the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, attended by 60 officers. The training emphasized the identification of individuals with autism and provided guidance on deescalation techniques and interaction strategies.
The agency already has established policies and procedures for calls involving autism characteristics, with the dispatch center asking specific questions to gather relevant information.”