Arnaudville Police Department

Prêt à protéger, fier de servir

Ready to protect. Proud to Serve

The Chief's Blog

The Tide Will Turn

November 17, 2021

As we enter the holiday season – the season of “giving”, I reflect on the last year as your Chief. It has been a challenging year, both professionally and personally, but because I am a man of faith, I have to believe that my Maker is ultimately in control.

As a Police Chief managing a small rural department, my biggest challenge has been recruiting and retaining quality personnel. Arnaudville suffers the same fate and the same struggles as almost every other law enforcement agency in the country. We must recognize those elements that are impacting our efforts, and fight against some of the negative attitudes and perceptions we get from some of our citizens, from municipal officials, and from within our own ranks. We must acknowledge that there exists leadership that does not have the best interest of our citizens in mind; leadership that often turns its back on the brave and committed men and women who carry the badge and wear the uniform. There are invisible forces behind the scenes who would change the fundamental direction and values we have fought for for generations.

My over two decades serving in law enforcement has obviously been met with moments of challenge – Hurricane Katrina, big city crime, facing the tragedy and sorrow of fallen officers, meeting families of victims, and more – all to be anticipated as a police officer. What I never anticipated was a national movement that vilifies, disregards, dismisses and destroys the lives and livelihoods of decent, honest and hard-working law enforcement officers. A top-to-bottom movement that ultimately results in more crime, more disorder, and more chaos in communities and trauma to innocent citizens. As in every such movement, we always see a course correction, and I am optimistic that we will see the tide turn.

As I reflect on a personal level, I count the many family and friends who have been touched by a global pandemic that left us nowhere to hide and no immunity from devastating loss. My own brother succumbed to Covid-19, as did many of his fellow nursing home residents. Otherwise healthy family members, young and old did not escape the clutches of Covid. Attempting to understand the rationale for restrictions, mandates, and closures left more confusion, division and distrust. Covid took lives, but also took much more from us – our compassion, tolerance, empathy and trust. We are left as cynical, suspicious and mistrustful citizens choosing sides, and isolating and ostracizing those who dare to contradict or question.

But, as we move through all of this, we are left with our faith. Faith that tells us that while we are all on borrowed time, the best is still ahead of us. Life is constantly renewing, evolving and transforming into something better. We only need to wait, because the course will be corrected. The pendulum will swing the other way.

For those who can never see beyond their own selfishness or greed, or who fail to believe life is about giving and not taking, I have pity for them. The misery and hurt they inflict on others will come back to rest on their own souls. For the majority of us, the holiday season - the season of “giving” is but a time when our challenges, our pain and our struggles are overshadowed by the good we can do for others.

Happy Holidays, Arnaudville!


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What it takes prior to a drug bust...

Posted on May 22, 2014 at 8:24 PM Comments comments (852)
There is a concern among our Arnaudville citizens about drugs – use as well as distribution. It’s an issue that embeds itself into our communities as drugs filter into our schools, playgrounds, neighborhoods, and even in people’s backyards.  The dealers and users blatantly, and unashamedly, transact their business on side streets, parking lots, and bridges. 
Arnaudville, and other small towns have become havens for drug users and dealers, partly due to the lack of resources, the lack of experienced law enforcement professionals, and sometimes weak, and ineffective leadership that turns a blind eye to the growing and often complex problem.  Speaking in general terms, police corruption can be a problem, as well. The reputation of a police department becomes a factor that might determine for the drug user/dealer if this might be a place where they can engage in drug activity undisturbed, safe in the knowledge that “no one is looking” or there is no appetite for addressing the problem, or worse – “bad cops” might be easily persuaded with favors and promises of kick-backs to undermine or sabotage efforts to crack down on their enterprise.
Citizens become frustrated as they watch, or are aware of drug activity, but feel nothing is being done about it, or they witness a revolving door for those guilty. Many times we see the perpetrators “walk” due to technicalities and methods used or not used by law enforcement, including evidence gathering, search and seizure protocol, and finally report-writing.  Any one of these snafus alone, or in a combination can cause a case to be thrown out.
As the highest ranking law enforcement officer of Arnaudville, I understand the frustration, realize there is a drug problem, and am committed to addressing it.  In our effort to tackle the problem, multiple law enforcement agencies on a Federal, regional, and local level must work together to organize successful drug busts.  I am aware of the rural police departments’ limitations and restrictions, so I have been about the building of strong relationships with St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, St. Martin’s Sheriff’s Office, as well as other neighboring agencies.  As quickly as feasible, our officers are receiving additional training, and as quickly as possible, I am upgrading equipment, establishing protocols and procedures, and providing hands-on leadership.  ALL of this preliminary activity will produce for Arnaudville in the long run, the tools necessary to address the drug issue and all criminal elements living and operating among us.
Citizens can assist by reporting drug activity they witness, and hopefully credible and reliable information will help initiate planning and preparation. Drug round up's take time, sometimes six-months to a year's worth of planning if we want to get at the core – the dealer(s).  It’s not a run with guns blazing kind of operation.  Our best advantages are preparation and planning, and the element of surprise.  But even with preparation the element of danger never disappears, forcing officers to consistently bring their "A" game.
Be aware that citizens will not see the planning and preparation; they will not become aware of the time, place and circumstance.  In some cases one law enforcement agency may not be aware of another’s activity until it is over, because confidentiality makes the element of surprise work in our favor.
Your concerns are noted.  Your concerns are also mine, and are among our priorities going forward.

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Honoring the APD officers and employees...

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 11:28 AM Comments comments (317)
With National Police Week coming to an end, I realized that most people didn’t know about this week set aside to pay honor to all law enforcement who have fallen in the line of duty, and all who remain ever vigil, protecting and serving their communities.  Our Arnaudville Police Department is part of this group of individuals who chose to serve – not for the money -- but for the opportunity.  I respect anyone who puts on the uniform and goes out to literally put their life on the line for strangers.  It is often a thank-less job.  

I recently came across an article that provided “tips” on how one can demonstrate their appreciation for their police, and would like to share it with you.  

1.      Write a letter of commendation.  Send it to the chief of police.  Write about            your general appreciation of policemen and their commitment to the                      community.  Write about a specific incident where you observed service                  “above and beyond” the call of duty. 

2.      Write a letter to the editor. 

3.      Wave when you see an officer, giving him or her a friendly greeting. 

4.      Speak uplifting words of appreciation.  Watch for occasions to say thanks                when it will not distract the officer from his performance of duty. 

5.      Do not permit unjust criticism in your presence.  When someone starts to put          down a police officer, speak up and turn the conversation into a positive                appreciation for all the good police men and women. 

6.      Sponsor appreciation days at your church, club or service organization.                  Some churches conduct special prayer services for police officers and                    firemen. 

7.      If you see police or firemen eating in the same restaurant as you, pay their              bill anonymously!

While citizens can play a role in recognizing and acknowledging our police, there is much that I can do as Chief to honor my officers and employees.  Beginning this month, I will name an Employee of the Month to be announced at the Town Council meeting each month.  This public recognition will serve to place in the minutes a permanent record of each’s honor, and send a message to all in attendance that the APD has committed and dedicated employees serving our community.  

Another way I can honor my officers is to be the kind of leader they can rely on, the kind of man they can look up to, and the kind of mentor who will make sure they are well trained and prepared for anything.  I honor them, too when I treat them like part of a team, and utilize their strengths, listen to their input, and respect them as individuals.

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Turning individuals into members of a team...

Posted on April 30, 2014 at 10:46 PM Comments comments (396)

Starting with the basics, I will methodically evaluate how each employee adheres to expectations and requirements.  Some of my goals include making internal processes more efficient and more effective, reducing turnover and improving morale.  It will also include making our police department known in the community for its professionalism on the streets, as well as a welcoming and helpful “front desk”.

Now, I know that there will be criticism from the forces that sow the seeds of doubt and cynicism.  We will learn to focus on our steady march to checking off one goal at a time – from wearing uniforms with pride, to achieving all the necessary training to maintain certifications.  We will tackle one item at a time, from exercising sound logic, applying knowledge of the law to our most mundane stops to the most complex.  Change won’t always come easy, but it will come nonetheless because that is what the citizens want, and what they deserve.

At the end of the day, we will live the mission that is articulated on the official Arnaudville Police Department facebook page:

The mission of the Arnaudville Police Department is to provide a safe, secure atmosphere, and enhance the quality of life in the Town of Arnaudville by working cooperatively with the Mayor, the Town Council, and the public, and within the framework of the U.S. Constitution. Our mission is to strengthen public confidence in the organization, develop and maintain positive relations with the community and to promote a safe and friendly community through enforcement and education.

Each employee will have decide whether they want to work as a member of a cohesive team and promote this mission in all aspects of the job.  It is the very nature of our profession to eat, drink, think and act as a member of a team.  I look forward to working with those who say “yes”.

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Don't Be Dumb About Your Smartphone...

Posted on April 24, 2014 at 12:09 PM Comments comments (193)

My wife has had three cellphones stolen in the last 3 years.  Of course, she would never want anyone to know, but on the most part, these thefts could have been prevented had she heeded some of the advice below.  The first phone was dropped from its case which was attached to the outside of her purse.  It was in an airport.  Her hands were full, she was rushing to the parking lot, and realized when she got in the car that the phone was gone.  While she hoped that someone had found it and turned it in to lost and found, she had no such luck.  Luckily, the phone was insured and a new phone arrived 24 hours later.

The second (new replacement) was not even fully activated and was inside the purse this time as she was shopping at a Las Vegas Walmart. She reached for a product on the shelf, and the thief must have reached quickly inside the purse to lift the first thing his hand came in contact with.

A couple of years later, a new cellphone still in the box, was left in the backseat of the car under some other items.  The car was broken into and the GPS and cellphone were lifted.

Smartphone theft is rampant.  A 2012 report from the FCC indicated 40 percent of the robberies in New York City involved smartphones, and Consumer Reports estimated 1.6 million smartphones were stolen in 2012.  An estimated 140 million people in the United States own smartphones, with that number predicted to climb to more than 200 million by 2017.  By comparison, there are roughly 250 million cars in the United States. 

Your cellphone is a virtual storage cabinet for all of your important and private information.  It is valuable enough to the thief as an object he can fence or resale, but the data on your phone is even more valuable, and can bring an even higher price when peddled to the right party.  Smartphones regularly carry contact information for thousands of people, photos you may not have copies of (or don’t want other people to see), bank and credit card data, and website passwords.  Worse, three of every ten smartphone users don’t lock their phones with a passcode, so anyone who finds it has access to whatever is stored there. 

Location tracking technology built into most of these phones allows their users to locate the phone’s position remotely. Sometimes this can be done even if the phone is not turned on. Only removing the battery will make the phone go completely silent, and some phones, notably the iPhone, don’t have removable batteries. 

In the case of the iPhone, a free “Find My Phone” app allows the user to display the phone’s location on a map, where the phone has been recently, to lock or erase the phone remotely, and to display a message to whoever might have it or finds it.  The app will also cause the phone to play a sound file (roughly, “Here I am!”).  Any of these actions run from another iOS device or a web browser.  An app with the same name from the Google Play store permits almost as many options on an Android device. 

While you are attending festivals or concerts, going on vacation, or shopping, be aware of where your phone is – is it in an easy accessible side pocket of your purse?  Is it in your hip pocket where it is easy pickings for a thief?  Did you put it down on a shelf while you were shopping?  Realizing what you may have stored on your smartphone, ask yourself if you have taken the proper precautions to protect yourself against theft.
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How a Focus on Ethics Can Elevate the Police Department

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 10:36 AM Comments comments (81)

Some of the following information was taken from an article authored by Marty Katz, a retired sergeant with the Broward Sheriff’s Office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Marty is owner and chief instructor of Crimewave Solutions, a training company for officer survival and common sense self defense.
I will be evaluating the APD with regards to training, and it is critical that part of the training is ethics training because trust among those we serve and protect can be established if our officers and civilian personnel are meeting the highest ethical standards.
Ethical behavior is the foundation of any professional organization and as such, should be a recurring theme in every training program.
Ethics is the common thread that can be found at the beginning of — and typically, throughout — almost every instance of police officer misbehavior. When officers lower our image in the eyes of those we protect and serve, they forget that at one time they raised their right hand and took a solemn oath to uphold a certain set of ethics.
The problem can run from the highest command level, the Chief, to the civilians at the front desk. Each of these levels has a different responsibility, but ethics are everyone’s concerns. When one of our own violates their oath, everyone in this department and even in the profession suffers. It is time to regain that which we lost.
I will take the time to reinforce what we were all taught in the academy by making ethics a top priority. While the APD has experienced scandals, officer firings, a high officer turnover, and a negative image, I am confident that as we go forward, these will be only memories, and no longer reality. I am challenged to create an environment that allows good ethics to grow, and good officers to want to work here. Once you have a positive reality, the positive perception is not far behind.
I am creating an atmosphere of zero tolerance to ethical misbehavior as well as individual ownership for one’s actions. If I succeed, many of the problems clinging to us, as a department, should vanish. By holding everyone to a higher ethical standard, we can reestablish trust where it has been damaged, and reinforce trust where already we’ve proven ourselves worthy. I am convinced that with a focus on ethics and the proper training, the community and the police themselves will see positive change between the command and rank and file, between officer and officer, and between officer and citizen.
Mart Katz writes: “Remember this: Right is right, even if no one else does it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone else does it.”

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Open Letter to Town of Arnaudville

Posted on April 17, 2014 at 10:01 AM Comments comments (312)

Open letter to the town of Arnaudville:

I want to thank all who supported me through their votes and also through their words before the election and since the election.  For those who did not support my run, I offer a commitment to serve you, protect you and respect you as I will all citizens of Arnaudville – without prejudice or bias.  My door is open, and I invite anyone with concerns, ideas, or suggestions to come and express them to me.
In that vein, my detractors have engaged in name-calling, mockery and jeering.  I’ve been called “old man”, along with several other names that cannot be repeated in mixed company.  But, my favorite and most current name is Special Ed.  And I want them to know that no better honor could I have than to be in the company of some of my favorite people.  First, my daughter, who is deaf, and had her share of teasing, but now teaches “special ed” students in Breaux Bridge.  She and her husband presented us with twins last year, and our grandson, Lucas is also deaf, and will go through years of “special ed” services.  My wife Ginger and I were instrumental in keeping a private deaf school opened for almost 25 years in New Orleans, so we have been connected to the special children who came through that school – deaf, autistic, and developmentally delayed.  So, for those who have bestowed this name upon me as a way to ridicule or mock me, I say go ahead.
In the days and weeks to come, Arnaudville will see professionalism and competency rising out of the Arnaudville Police Department.  They will see response with compassion;  patrolling with more purpose – monitoring our elderly and disabled, serving the needs of our business community; and applying our laws even-handedly.  I will enforce zero tolerance for gossip and the leaking of confidential information. This is a very small town, and the gossip mongers among us may not ever be silenced, but they will have no willing partner in me, as a listener or as a participant.

I look forward to working with the Mayor and all members of this council.  I welcome each of you to share your wisdom, your opinions and suggestions that will make the Police Department better and our services provided more professional.  You are all seasoned -- as citizens and as elected officials, so I will be grateful for your assistance in the coming weeks, which most of you have already offered. 

I close with the prayer that God be with me and with all of you as we work together to make our great little town a greater little town.


Eddy J. LeCompte
Chief of Police - Arnaudville, LA
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A New Day is Dawning...

Posted on April 6, 2014 at 2:58 AM Comments comments (176)

It was a close race.  Now comes the real work.  Promises made and promises to keep.  Leadership that will reshape our police department, restore trust and pride for our officers and citizens, and will bring an effective working relationship with the Town Council and the Mayor's Office.

We celebrated quietly at home surrounded by family and close friends who believe in my abilities, trusted that I could win, and gave me the lift each and every day that I needed to cross the finish line.  I appreciated the well-wishers who dropped by with the hugs and the promise of continued support.  We sipped a few beers and feasted on Ginger's jambalaya and red beans and rice.  Nothing fancy, over the top, or obnoxious.  It is a relief to have it over, but exciting to begin the work.

To all who take the time to read the ramblings of a candidate, I hope to continue with a blog, but one that will share information about what is going on in the Police Department.  For so long, false information and misinformation was sent out into the community to be embellished, twisted, or purposefully used to malign or destroy.  I will combat this with honesty and openness.  Information going out will be controlled and filtered, truthful and presented professionally, as opposed to gossip mongering, speculation or second guessing.  Monthly reports will include the positive successes we are having, not just the quantity of arrests, stops and disturbances.  It is just as vital to demonstrate what a progressive and dynamic Police Department is doing.

Arnaudville, a new day has dawned. 
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Not the end -- only the beginning...

Posted on April 5, 2014 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (138)

Well, today will determine where I am tomorrow.  This journey has given me more friends, more memories, and more love for my community.  I have had the honor and the pleasure of reconnecting with my past, and my parents' past.  In that respect, I have felt that they were with me.  I know that they would be proud of me, my approach to this endeavor, and my vision that would bring honor and pride to the town of Arnaudville and its citizens.

At times, the odds seemed against me, but I persevered.  Opening each visit with who I am, who my family is, and where I come from was key in establishing trust. Once established, I shared my love for Arnaudville, my vision for its future, and my goals as I took a front seat role in its new beginnings.

As a law enforcement professional, there are many issues I will face, but the most important will be providing Arnaudville with the best protection possible.  It may be a cliché', but  to protect and serve will be our mission, and every move and every decision will have its foundation in that mission. 

Our police will also face a new day tomorrow, maybe with a new leader.  While many have ridiculed them, I have concluded that the morale of the department as a whole has suffered over the past few years due to the bad press and the fractured loyalties.  Without solid, professional leadership, we can see what happens -- a large turnover, lack of trust in each other, apathy towards the job, and no direction.  I pity anyone working in such an environment.  I would go into the job knowing that this has to be fixed if we are to provide Arnaudville the kind of protection they want and deserve.  The police department is broken.  It needs to heal, and this will take time, but it will be worth the wait.

And if I don't have enough votes at the end of the day, I will not shrink back.  I will shake it off, and let God lead me to my next "thing".  I will continue to find ways that will make a positive impact on Arnaudville.

If you are one who reads my blog, or who has been following my story, or who has been part of it in any way, thank you.  I'm sure our paths will cross again.
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Law Enforcement Professionals Facing the Autism Tsunami

Posted on April 3, 2014 at 11:22 AM Comments comments (194)

As we approach Election Day, I have to now put it in the hands of the voters and God.  I was reminded today that if it is meant to be, God will allow it to happen.  So, today’s blog is not about elections, campaigns or politics. 
Today I have turned over my blog to Ginger, as we honor and recognize this month as Autism Awareness Month.  In New Orleans, she was the Executive Director of a program for the deaf and children with communicative disorders.  Her connection to children with Autism, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) runs deep.  Our daughter, Emily teaches a self-contained special education class with several autistic children.
Ginger writes:
Today, 1 out of 68 children will be born with ASD.  These numbers are astounding. In a decade this number has gone from 1 in 250, to just five years ago 1 in 150.
While we can address the educational options, behavioral strategies, and teaching methods for children with ASD, we should also be acutely aware that if these numbers are correct, there is an ever-growing number of young adults and adults entering all aspects of our society with ASD – the workforce, the communities, businesses, etc. 
Since Ed’s blog has always integrated law enforcement into its discussion, I thought it appropriate to do the same.  I will refer to an Autism Tsunami facing today’s police forces, and just as there is a need for police to be aware of and know about specific ADA laws (Americans With Disabilities Act) and the rights of this specific “class” of citizenry, they need special training when it comes to ASD.
There is a massive increase of young adults with autism; a statistical wave created by what appears to be a perfect storm scenario of concurrent contributing factors, including increased diagnoses, increased incidence of autism, over-taxed and drying up community resources and a maturing front-line demographic of individuals with autism The average age of these autism-boomers at somewhere between 17 and 19 years of age.
Consider this: the Center for Disease Control estimates 1 in 68 births currently are on the autism spectrum and possibly still rising. 3 out of 4 are male. Half are nonverbal or profoundly verbally limited. They are seven times more likely to encounter the police and at least three times more likely to be victims of violent and/or sexual crimes. 4 out of 5 police calls will involve unusual or dangerous, not criminal, behaviors that will often be difficult to manage or interpret. Two out of 5 will be prone to seizures, and a good deal of them will be hypotonic (low-muscle-tone), making them prone to positional asphyxia and musculoskeletal injuries. To top it all off, many of them will appear to be oblivious to pain, while others will shrink, as if in pain (perhaps real pain), to your slightest touch.
Police officers have been trained to use a certain police presence and dialog as intervention options. Body posture, tone of voice, eye contact, and interrogative language serves them well with most contacts. All of these are a form of nonverbal communication. It’s what they rely on initially to get their message across and control a contact. When dealing with subjects with ASD, traditional officer presence may not work.  In fact, it may even backfire.
A recent report was issued written by Joel Lashley, who is the father of a son with autism and has more than 20 years experience managing challenging behaviors in the clinical setting.  The report was a collaboration with Lashley (Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin), Emily Levine (Executive Director of the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin), Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr. (Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office), Mike Thiel, CPP (Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Director of Security), Edward A. Flynn (Chief of Police Milwaukee Police Department), Dr. George Thompson (President of the Verbal Judo Institute), and scores of national professionals. 
Citing information in this report, “Children, youth, and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are as varied in their interests, personalities, character, temperaments, and communication styles as anyone else. It is therefore generally not a good idea to stereotype people with ASD. In reality, no two persons behave exactly alike, but what we know about people with ASD is that they tend to display unusual repetitive behaviors and have difficulty with socialization and communication.”
People with autism and other cognitive or developmental disabilities are less likely to commit a crime than others, but they are more likely than ever before to:

• Live independently without support
• Be out in public alone, without family or care providers
• Work, attend school, use public transportation, and even drive
• Have their access to public places and other freedoms challenged
• Have a medical emergency
• Be harassed and otherwise bullied
• Be a victim of sexual assault and other serious crimes
• Attract the attention of the police
According to the report, people with ASD often won’t understand what others want or need from them — worse, they may not understand that their words or actions can negatively impact others (or themselves). Difficulty with natural social concepts and values is usually what gets them into trouble with others, including the police, the report states.
I would like to conclude by pointing out that more and more police forces are seeking training, and there are several very reliable trainers and resources for them.  Here are a few suggestions that are included in some of the training that is available.
Once you've encountered a subject who you think might have a cognitive impairment, here are a few principles to help you out.

  1. First be safe  and make sure they are unarmed. 
  2. Persons with ASD are as diverse as neurotypical people are. Start out simple. Then find out how well they can communicate and adapt to that level. 
  3. Manage your back-up. Make sure you have back-up because you may need them just like on any other call. Have your back-up stay back a few extra feet and stay quiet. Their presence is added stimulation you don’t need right then! They should be alert, out of direct sight, and out of mind. 
  4. Don't interfere with "self-stimming." Everyone self-stimulates — we drum our fingers, tap our feet, and other quirky things when under stress or just bored. Since their sense of nonverbal communication is not like ours, persons with autism will exhibit what looks like bizarre self-stimulating behaviors, like hand flapping, twirling their body, rocking, jumping in place, handling an object and other things. Stimming can also be auditory in the form of humming or other sounds by mouth, or repeating a single work in rapid succession, "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes."  Stimming is a natural behavior we all do to calm ourselves down or focus our concentration. Let it go and keep talking. It's helping you out more than you know. 
  5. Move them away from the scene, or move the scene away from them. The point is to reduce outside stimulation. Give them less of everything — less sound, less light, fewer words, fewer voices, fewer people, fewer distractions. Radios, sirens, pagers, beeping medical equipment, flashing lights and all the trappings of public safety and emergency medicine are exactly what will send your subject with autism into crisis. 
  6. Allow for acclimation. Once you've moved them, allow them to acclimate. Everyone "acclimates" to new surroundings. We simply look around the room. People with autism will often walk around the room touching things. Just watch and make sure they are safe. 
  7. Don’t expect eye contact or other appropriate body language. Their lack of, or some might argue "unique" sense of, instinctive nonverbal communication will be unnerving. They usually won't look at you or wear an appropriate expression. They may spontaneously smile, frown, scowl, or wear a blank expression. Don’t look for too much meaning in what you see on the face. 
  8. Don't equate the inability to speak with deafness or illiteracy. Even if your subject is nonverbal, they are likely to hear and understand some or all of their own primary language (English/ Spanish/ etc.). In the case of nonverbal subjects with autism, your spoken commands may be your only means of communication. Most of them can probably read. Try short written notes if your spoken words aren't "getting through."
  9. Don't read meaning into words alone. Gauge your success by their physical responses to your commands, not their words. If you ask them to sit, they might say the word "sit" before or after they physically comply. They might say, "Starbucks" because their mother always tells them to sit down during their daily trip to Starbucks. They may talk about something seemingly way off topic, like a TV show or their favorite restaurant. 
    They may repeat what you say back to them. Immediate repetition of what another person has said or is saying — a behavior called "echolalia" — is a common autistic trait. Repeating is thought to be their way of attempting communication with others from behind the curtain of the profound loneliness many of them feel. 
    They also might answer yes then no to the same question. Higher functioning individuals might quote the law to you when you are interfering, in their mind, with their right to move freely. Be prepared to read between, over, and under, the lines. 
  10. Use a normal volume of voice until you gauge their reaction. If your voice appears to startle or frighten them then decrease your volume. If your first attempts to communicate have failed, you can try increasing your volume slightly. Sensory input is often impaired. A low volume may be expectable, while a "normal" volume might hurt their ears. Or they might be hearing impaired, like my son, Colin. You’ll have to be adaptable until you get things rolling. 
  11. Keep your tone of voice soft and non-threatening. They will likely not be able to interpret emotion from your voice, but in case they can, you want to sound non-threatening. Slow your pace and speak clearly. 
  12. Use an economy of words. Keep your commands brief, clear, and literal (no figures of speech). Speech is a form of stimulus. Persons with autism and/or persons in crisis abhor strange voices and sound. Only one responder should do the talking and don’t allow unnecessary talking around the subject. 
  13. Give them extra time. The persons with autism will usually need more time to process your words and react to them. Silently give them up to 11 seconds to act or respond to your commands or questions. You can go onto the next thing once they’ve answered you. 
  14.  Dispel their fear. They don’t know what you want from them. All they know is that you are in their face. Tell them, "I am here to help you," "I will take care of you," or "I will take you home," depending on the situation. Anticipate the problem and alleviate their anxiety. 
  15. Say "good job" to kids and adults alike. It may sound odd to say “good job” to an adult, but it represents praise they are likely to be familiar with from childhood and perhaps even in their current living situation. By praising them with the phrase “good job” you're building rapport and validating for them that they are doing what you want. 
  16. Use non-threatening body language. If they are able to interpret body language, and most will not be able too, they will not respond to your command presence. Most will not understand it and some will only feel threatened by it. Remember, you were trained to use a command presence as a means to gain compliance. Your command presence, or alpha posture, is not appropriate to use for persons with autism or anyone in crisis. It will most likely only backfire on you. 
    Instead of a command presence, keep your hands at belt level, gesture slowly, and move slowly. Be relaxed but alert. 
  17. Model the behaviors you want to see. Persons with developmental disabilities may not understand the subtleties of most nonverbal communication, but they usually will respond to your mood and the gross-motor movements of your body — either negatively or positively. 
    So, if you want them to be still, then be still. If you want them to be calm, then be calm. Want them to stay back then maintain an appropriate space from them and from your partners. If you want them to sit then try modeling sitting. Just as they might echo your words, they might echo your behaviors. 
  18. Personal space is relative. Stay out of tip-off or kicking range as trained. Proxemics is a form of nonverbal communication like any other body language. Since persons with autism spectrum disorders often do not have an instinctive sense of personal space, they might invade yours. Be ready for it. Guard your weapons. They can be attracted to shiny or otherwise interesting objects. If you have foreknowledge of what you’re getting into, then leave your badge, name tags, pens, and other non-essential items in your squad. Keep your hands empty — there will be time for notes later. 
  19. Look for a cause. Kids with autism who did things like put their head through a bus window because they couldn’t tell anyone they had a bad ear infection; some severely slapped their own bare skin, probably just because they were cold; kids who were combative just because they were hungry. 
  20. Many teachers have talked about the "terrible hour" meaning that time in the afternoon when some kids with autism will act-up. Often when a brief nap was introduced, the behaviors ceased. First see to basic needs: pain, cold, heat, thirst, hunger, and fatigue, and then see what happens. 
  21. Striking out is communication. Facial expressions and other body language have limited or no meaning to persons with ASD. If we get too close, or come up behind a person, we can expect to get a dirty look over the shoulder. The dirty look means “stay back” and is often an unconscious and instinctive, rather than learned, behavior. For persons with autism, that instinct will often translate into a backhand or choking movement. They can’t say it with their mouth, or show it on their face, so their instinct is to physically strike out with their hands. 
  22. Tell them the "rules."  People with autism are all about routine and the "rules." Law-abiding neurotypicals, like you and me, fear and/ or respect the law. Persons with ASD rely on and respect the rules. So for example, say, "Sir, the rules say I have to put these handcuffs on you." 
  23. Quiet hands and feet. "Quiet hands" is a common command used to manage children with ASD in the home and school setting. It’s one many children and adults will be familiar with. If one is striking out or kicking, try the "quiet hands" or "quiet feet" command in a stern moderate tone. 
  24. Biting is a common defensive behavior — don't get bitten!  Biting is a common defensive behavior — don't get bitten! Biting is probably the most basic mammalian defensive reaction. When attempting to physically control persons on the autism spectrum, stay clear of the mouth. The human bite is very dangerous and I’ve seen persons with autism severely bite their own loved ones. The best defense against a bite is to prevent it by stabilizing the subject’s head before the subject’s teeth can make contact with your body. If you do get bitten, mandibular or hypoglossal pressure points are worth a try, but I’ve seen them fail on a subject with autism. In the event that they are severely biting someone, there are other passive techniques for breaking off a bite that are beyond the scope of this article. But considering that biting is a common behavior for autistic persons in crisis, it may be time for public safety people to learn additional passive bite releases. 
  25. They have an alternative sense of fear. People with autism may exhibit an irrational fear of, or be attracted to, glass. They are often attracted to bodies of water and have no fear of drowning (I taught my son to swim at a young age, and I suggest it to everyone. Work with his or her doctors and learn how to proceed). 
    Certain sounds and sights may frighten them, perhaps even some odors or textures, but at the same time they might have no fear of opening a door in a moving car or darting into heavy traffic. Wandering off is a big problem with ASD kids and some adults. A lack of fear of strangers, places them in all sorts of dangerous situations. 
  26. They have an altered sense of pain. Many persons on the autism spectrum can be repulsed by certain textures and calmed by others. Irritation from certain fabrics has been described, by some persons with autism, as painful. They might have a broken arm or other severe wound and not exhibit a pain response, such as screaming, crying, or guarding. Some may be comforted by a bear hug, but the same person might shriek at a soft touch on the shoulder, as if in pain. 
  27. Support and constantly monitor breathing. Because they are often hypotonic, they often have difficulty breathing under stress. Also, their chest muscles may be weak and have difficulty supporting even their own weight, in some positions. Position your handcuffed subject on their side in the lateral recumbent (low-level fetal) position, meaning slightly bent at the waist and knees. If it’s safe, sit them up. 
    Consider transporting them in the lateral recumbent position in an ambulance. Every cop knows about positional asphyxia. Consider all your subjects with developmental disabilities to be at risk. 
  28. Adrenaline stays up. Whether for organic or behavioral reasons  persons with autism need lots of extra time to cool down. It’s just like any other person in crisis. If you’re sick of waiting, then get ready to fight. Then get ready to explain yourself. 

The good news is, cops are very good at sizing up these situations. Give them the tools and they’ll know what to do with them! If the pros can provide police, corrections, and healthcare security officers with the necessary tools to recognize and communicate with subjects likely to have ASD, then the situation will have a fighting chance to resolve peacefully. 

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Training + Maturity + Good Judgement = Survival

Posted on March 31, 2014 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (192)

Had a wonderful weekend, ending in a BBQ with family and friends.  I have continued to visit and talk with the town people and had meetings with supporters.  The encouragement has helped me sleep.  For a couple of nights, this was a problem.  

As I contemplate the possibility of a win, I have sketched out in my mind what priorities I will focus on.  I believe in my gut that we have some good officers -- good officers can become better with continuous training.  With any Chief, training should be routine.  But, the training without proper equipment can only go so far. So, with my ability to research and write grants, partner and collaborate with area agencies, I am confident that workable, reliable equipment will be forth coming if I am elected.

I read about a 22 year old police officer in North Carolina was shot in the face on Friday night, and died.  He was making a stop to question someone who was acting suspiciously.  He had only 7 months on the job.  Could this tragedy have been avoided?  I don't know, but I know one thing -- young, inexperienced police officers are the most likely to be killed or injured in the line of duty.  They are often vulnerable because of the combination of immaturity, inexperience, the bravado they possess from being young and "bad-ass" that sometimes makes them feel invincible.  

Physical training and fitness is no good if you don't have the ability or capacity of sound judgement and strategic thinking -- mostly born out of years of experience and maturity.
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