Lexington Police training focuses on autism

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - At the Lexington Police Academy there's a new lesson being taught.

For the first time recruits at the academy are getting an in-depth training in communication with people who have autism and University of Kentucky student Abbey Love is leading this lesson.

Love says the conversation got started after a police shooting in Miami last year where one of them men involved had autism.

After hearing about that incident Love and several other people involved in the Lexington autism community contacted Police Chief Mark Barnard and talked to him about the issue over a cup of coffee.

"We met a few months ago with a couple of young ladies who came to a meeting with Chief Barnard and I discussing their concerns on how we train here in Lexington with our police officers and members of the community that suffer from autism," Commander Mike Wright said.

Since then Love along with two other women have been simulating real life situations with officers and people with communication disorders, but they've gotten a little extra help along the way.

"Unless they are given that training they are going to expect them to be normal especially if they look normal and that's not going to be the case and without training you can have some serious consequences," Vibert Forysythe said.

Police say they have already used some of the training techniques. Suzannah Williams' son has autism and she says this training could mean the difference between life or death.

"If we can get police or people with autism a little closer and knowing more about each other and understanding each other we can make the danger must less," she said.

Love says they plan to do a training session with the Fayette County Sheriff's Office soon. She says the next community meet and greet with officers and people with autism will be April 22nd from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Tates Creek Library.

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