TIPP CITY — Later this month, the Tipp City Police Department will host an open house geared toward encouraging positive interactions between its officers and people with autism.
Planned for June 30 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Tipp City’s City Park, the event is designed to allow people with autism and other developmental disabilities to meet with police officers and first responders.
“We want everyone to feel welcome and relaxed. There will be a meet and greet area where individuals with autism and their family members or caregivers, can meet with the officers, ask questions, and interact. This serves a dual purpose by also allowing our officers to learn from these individuals,” Tipp City police officer Parrish Brazel said.
There will also be onsite therapy dogs and horses, some giveaways, information from area agencies, arts and crafts, and snacks. The event is open to people from surrounding communities, not just Tipp City.
The event was inspired by training Brazel attended on interacting with people with autism that “highlighted just how important it is for police officers to be able to recognize the signs of someone who may have a developmental disability versus someone who is simply being non-compliant,” she said.
Brazel learned in training that the rate of autism diagnoses is on the rise, which she said makes it all the more important that police officers be proactive in their approach to working with autistic people.
“As officers, we will encounter these individuals more often and in different settings, including traffic stops, suspicious person’s calls and even domestic violence situations. If we have the training to be able to recognize that someone has autism and isn’t directly disobeying police orders, the situation will end better and more peacefully for everyone involved,” Brazel said.
In addition to police officers, the Tipp City Fire Department will be in attendance with a medic and fire truck, as well as “lots of goodies to pass out,” she said.
Riverside of Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities will be there to provide information on the services they offer, including thePlay and Language for Autistic Youth (PLAY) program. This program helps parents learn to better engage with their autistic child. They will also be providing a rock and rest booth to allow mothers of infants or young children a private place to take care of their needs, Brazel said.
Goodwill Easter Seals of the Miami Valley will also have a booth at the event. They will be available to discuss the services they provide and provide information on assistive technology and how it can improve the dialogue between autistic people and others.
Brazel said the department is also excited to bring in a “calming element” to the event in Autumn Trails Stables, a therapeutic horseback riding program based near Springfield. Autumn Trails will be bringing several of their horses and information on their services.
The Dayton chapter of Canines for Christ is also bringing several therapy dogs.
Kids and families can also enjoy arts and crafts, as well as snow cones from Kona Ice of Troy.
“This is our first year organizing this event and the hope is that it is well attended and well received. If so, we would like for the event to grow, possibly bringing in other local agencies,” Brazel said. “What I hope people take away from this event is a new outlook on how dedicated police officers are in trying to make their communities a safe and welcoming place to live and play.”
Brazel said she and her fellow Tipp City police officers are hoping to make the community safer for everyone and to better equip themselves to serve them.
For more information, visit the department’s Facebook page.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.