Camden County Police Department First to Receive Bancroft Training
Cherry Hill, NJ – Bancroft, the largest nonprofit organization in New Jersey serving children and adults with autism and developmental and intellectual disabilities, has announced a year-long commitment to train police in communities where Bancroft facilities are located in techniques to de-escalate situations involving individuals with autism.
First to be trained are more than 200 Camden County police officers who will begin training during Autism Awareness Month in April.
Over the coming year, Bancroft will offer the training in the 15 host communities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware that are home to a Bancroft program facility or community-based group home. Bancroft has over 200 group homes located throughout the region.
“When police are called in to help with a situation that involves a child or adult who has autism or related disability, we find that the level of understanding of the diagnosis and associated behaviors make a big difference on how the situation is addressed and the chances of de-escalation exponentially rise,” said Toni Pergolin, President and CEO at Bancroft.
Individuals with autism have a wide range of differentiators when it comes to behaviors including being non-verbal, unable to tolerate loud noises, difficulty understanding social cues, repetitive behaviors, among many other characteristics.
The idea to educate and train police to recognize autism and the most effective ways to bring the situation under control came about following a recent incident at a South Jersey movie theater. On that day, an adult served by Bancroft exhibited behaviors that were misinterpreted by members of the public who called the police. Reacting to an incident that may be unfamiliar to the public or even law enforcement may cause more harm than help. Bancroft is setting out to help change misconceptions.
“Our officers are called into various situations related to those with autism, and often we find it can be handled through talking and working with the support personnel or family members on site to gather control,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. “Working with Bancroft, we will give our officers better tools to handle these situations with increased communication and understanding.”
With one in 68 people across the country diagnosed with autism, continued understanding and education will only help first responders be effective with this community. Bancroft developed the training with a focus on identifying specific behaviors that will help identify individuals who may have an intellectual or developmental disability as opposed to those who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol or suffer from mental illness.
“Part of our mission is to continue to develop programs that help the individuals we serve live more fulfilling lives and integrate into their communities. This program helps others understand some of the complexities of living with a developmental or intellectual disability and how we as a society can help them,” said Pergolin.
Training will also be available through Community Solutions at Bancroft for private entities such as movie theatres, restaurants, and recreation/entertainment sites to offer sensitivity training. Contact Bancroft at 1-800 774-5516 or firstname.lastname@example.org for information on training.