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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There have been some high profile cases of police officers encountering people with autism — with frightening results.
An officer in Florida was charged with shooting and wounding a caregiver for a man with autism. An officer in Chicago shot and wounded an unarmed man with autism.
Now, a local police officer is determined to help keep those situations from happening.
An instructional video made for police helps officers learn to identify and deal with someone who has autism. It’s been used all over the country.
Aspinwall Police Officer Scott Bailey was instrumental in making the video.
Bailey has two sons on the autism spectrum and he’s passionate about helping first responders become more aware.
“We took it upon ourselves,” Bailey said. “I have a great, great family with my sons, both Trevor and Trent, and my wife, Tina, really helping us out. The DVD has been utilized all over the country.”
Right now, people with autism can get cards to show officers if they’re pulled over, but Bailey and his 15-year-old son Trevor want things to go further.
“We’re trying to get our driver’s license to put, like, the autism on your identification card or your driver’s license now,” Trevor said.
“However, it would be on a voluntary basis, not mandatory. This way when law enforcement officers encounter somebody that has autism, they can understand autism is a hidden disability and sometimes it can mask as if they were doing illicit drugs or committing a crime,” Bailey said.
State Senator Lindsey Williams has agreed to push the idea forward.
Already, you can go to your local police department and get stickers for your car or front door to let officers know they’re dealing with someone with autism.
Because people on the spectrum can sometimes wander off, Bailey wants people to know about a program with the District Attorney’s office — a small radio transmitter that can help searchers track down someone who may be lost.
It’s all part of Bailey’s mission to help protect people with autism.
“I would like to have everybody safe. Everybody goes home,” Bailey said.