Autism awareness is the goal of a training program this week for deputies at the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
Spokesman Charles Mulligan said the Sheriff’s Office began crisis-intervention training nearly two-years-ago to help deputies respond to people with mental illness.
The purpose, Mulligan said, is to learn how to de-escalate situations as opposed to making them worse.
Autism, he said, presents its own set of challenges. “Many times, individuals who have mental illness, they’re not non-verbal. They communicate. Whereas someone with autism may not respond to you at all. And so these are the different changes we hope to garner a more broad understanding of.”
Mulligan said the training program is part of the department’s continuing-education initiative.