Michigan State Troopers are getting special community connection training coming up next month. The Department of State Police is joining an initiative called “Action For Autism”.  The virtual training sessions are being provided by the Autism Alliance of Michigan.

Troopers at all four SW Michigan posts will be involved. The State Police District 5 Headquarters is in Paw Paw, with the regional posts located in Marshall (Post 54), Paw Paw (Post 51), Niles (Post 53), and Wayland (Post 52).

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Troopers will be provided information about their interaction with individuals dealing with autism.  Troopers are also being equipped with what are called “calming bags”. These kits contain a range of items troopers can provide to people they are interacting with who have autism which can ease some of the stress that may develop due to the interaction. The items include fidget spinners, teddy bears, stress balls, and even some therapeutic silicon items that can be chewed. Troopers will also get special training to cover response calls where they may need to be involved in a search for someone who is missing and has special needs, particularly a missing person who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The website Autismspeaks.org provides a lot of information for police and families of people with autism about how the interactions can be handled to everyone’s benefit. The website cautions family members of those stricken with autism that encounters with law enforcement officers may be difficult since few police officers have specific training on how to deal with those encounters.

Michigan State Police Lt. Sarah Krebs is spearheading the training initiative for troopers. She says, “Several community partners supported this effort, and on behalf of the MSP, I’d like to thank Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Meijer, Milestones Child Development Center, and the Autism Alliance of Michigan. Growing up with a disabled person in my family gave me a unique opportunity to see how this population struggles. I wanted to be a part of the bridge to connect law enforcement to them.”

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