Proposed Florida Bill Mandates Specialized Training for Law Enforcement in Autism Awareness
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Proposed Florida Bill Mandates Specialized Training for Law Enforcement in Autism Awareness

A proposed law in the state government might alter how police deal with individuals with autism.

State Representative Paula Stark, who serves areas in Osceola and Orange counties, introduced the bill. This law would make it necessary for police officers to undergo training on recognizing and interacting with individuals who have autism spectrum disorder.

“In statute, there’s currently several different areas that state that law enforcement may train in certain areas, but it is not mandated for autism,” Stark stated. “This particular bill will mandate that they have 4 hours of training professionally, so that they know how to approach and/or be able to communicate and recognize when they are dealing with an individual that has these challenges.”

Autism spectrum disorder is described as a “neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave” by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Stark mentioned that the aim of this bill is to make sure everyone stays safe.

The training plan will involve instructing officers about Autism traits and demonstrating methods for questioning or talking to someone on the spectrum.

It will also guide law enforcement on locating and approaching an individual with autism who may run away and be at risk, and how to bring them back with “as little stress as possible.”

If the bill is approved, it will become effective on July 1, 2024.

Stark will participate in an autism awareness training in Kissimmee on Dec. 19, alongside The Autism Society of Greater Orlando & Osceola and local law enforcement.


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