The Gilbert Police Department has achieved the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) designation, a certification awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to organizations that have trained 80% or more of public-facing team members in how to communicate with and respond to autistic community members.
“The Gilbert Police Department is pleased to become autism certified through IBCCES,” said Gilbert Police Chief Michael Soelberg. “We value our relationship and trust with the community and this training provides valuable knowledge for our employees to better understand the needs of the autistic community. We look forward to finding new opportunities to connect with our community to further enhance the professionalism of our department.”
With autism diagnosis rates increasing (currently 1 in 44 children are diagnosed with autism according to the CDC), and the prevalence of sensory needs as well as adults being diagnosed later in life, the need has never been greater to ensure law enforcement and first responders have a better understanding of how to approach and assist autistic individuals.
“Having a child on the spectrum and being a police officer for almost twenty years, I can relate to the stress and fears families have when their child goes out on their own or becomes an adult,” said Gilbert Police Lieutenant Chris Timmins. “I know this training for first responders is so significant, due to the bond it will create between the members of the autistic community, their family members, and first responders in such a positive way,” This training better equips our first responders to understand and recognize some of the intricacies of being diagnosed with autism or other cognitive differences. We can utilize this training to not only help individuals who are overstimulated or stressed, but also to communicate with them and their family members during a time of crisis. Our dedication to being a diverse, equitable, and inclusive municipality shows with the support from our leadership in providing us with this training to make our community safe for everyone. For that, I am grateful not only as an employee for the Gilbert Police Department but also as a parent of a child on the spectrum.”
Following Mesa’s designation as an Autism Certified City (ACC) in 2019, other departments and communities in the East Valley have also pursued additional training and certification to meet the needs of their communities and share in this effort.
“Being an autism certified police department illustrates to our community and those who are autistic that they can trust that the Gilbert Police Department is properly trained when serving this growing, yet underserved community,” said Gilbert Police Officer Levi Leyba. “By preparing for encounters with individuals with cognitive differences or special needs, Gilbert PD is now in a position where we can better understand and communicate with our community members on the spectrum and help provide strategies to respond to a variety of calls for service. We are excited to be able to help build a more inclusive community, ensuring the safety of all involved.”
The Law Enforcement program provided by IBCCES covers topics such as common signs or behaviors that someone may be autistic, empathy and understanding, sensory sensitivities, communication tips, safety concerns such as elopement and drowning, and other scenario-based best practices. For more than 20 years, IBCCES has been a leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education, and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES is the only credentialing organization providing this type of certification, which includes evidence-based training as well as the perspectives of autistic individuals, alongside other resources, ongoing support, and renewal requirements to ensure there is continued learning and a lasting impact.
“IBCCES is excited to provide this program to the Gilbert Police Department – they’re passionate about serving their community in the best way possible and we’re glad we can help in this way,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. “It’s great to see so many committed professionals in Gilbert, as well as Mesa, Tempe, Queen Creek, and others coming together to truly make a difference and continue the community initiative that was started back in 2019.”
IBCCES also created CertifiedAutismCenter.com, as a free online resource for parents that lists certified locations and professionals. Each organization listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.
About the Gilbert Police Department
The Gilbert Police Department serves the thriving and growing community of Gilbert, Arizona with more than 260,000 citizens. The Gilbert Police Department employs over 460 sworn and professional staff who together work to fulfill Gilbert’s mission to Anticipate. Create. Help people.
Respect for individual rights is the basis of our constitution and the cornerstone of our values at the Gilbert Police Department. We strive to provide the best-in-class service to make people feel safe in their homes, schools, businesses, and on the roadways. We will serve as law enforcement leaders in protecting and assisting all people in our community through effective problem solving, professional service, and the relentless pursuit of those who victimize our citizens and compromise public safety. Visit gilbertaz.gov/Police or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
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