Michael Miksch, Chief of Police
775 Main St.
Hanson, MA 02341
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Contact: Benjamin Paulin
Hanson Police Participate in Safety Event for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
HANSON — Chief Michael Miksch is pleased to announce that four Hanson Police officers participated in a specialized training program about autism and related disabilities last week.
The event was held WHAT DAY? at the UMass Donahue Institute in Shrewsbury, and was organized and supported by Organizational Development & Learning Solutions business group at the Donahue Institute and sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services.
“This was a great opportunity for some of our officers to gain a better understanding of what it may be like when an officer encounters someone with autism,” Chief Miksch said. “Knowing how spot the signs that someone may have autism and being sensitive about how to effectively communicate with those individuals is crucial in our day-to-day duties. Because our officers never know who they might come across.”
As part of the Experience Autism training, officers experienced simulated activities to understand what it is like to have features of autism and learned how to interact effectively with individuals with autism and related conditions.
Each officer was then paired with an individual with exceptional needs to watch an interactive screening of BE SAFE The Movie. BE SAFE The Movie shows how people with autism can interact safely with police officers in different everyday situations. After watching each movie scene, officers and their partners practiced life-saving skills such as asking for help and following instructions. As they were mentoring their partners, the officers were also actively learning from them, gaining firsthand experience.
The event was facilitated by BE SAFE The Movie creator Emily Iland and her son Tom Iland, a self-advocate with ASD.
“This BE SAFE event is positive, uplifting, and has the potential to save lives”, said Emily Iland. “We saw officers at their best and witnessed relationships being built that bridge the gap between police and the disability community. This was an excellent opportunity to shine the light on people coming together to promote the safety of some of our most vulnerable citizens.”
The UMass Donahue Institute has worked with the Department of Developmental Services for over 20 years providing support for staff development programs as well as customized consulting services to support training needs for staff and the wider community.
Other departments that took part in the training included the Plymouth Police, Belmont Police and Westminster Police.