Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department officers and civilian staff members recently gathered at the House of Correction and Suffolk County Jail to take part in the Department’s annual recognition of the beginning of Autism Awareness Month.
As participants took their places for the photo and video shoot that would later run across the Department’s social media platforms for the national “Light It Up Blue” event on April 2nd, which is dedicated to raising awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), they did so armed with a deeper understanding of and compassion for the issue, thanks to a special training provided by the Department’s Correction Officer Training Academy.
Following an introduction to the Department by Lieutenant Abiezer Ayuso, who first observed lead trainer and Boston Police Officer Michelle Maffeo in action during a Choice Program presentation, members of ARC of South Norfolk/Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition (ALEC) have been visiting the Department for the past two years, providing autism awareness training to captains and lieutenants. This year, all custody and non-custody staff will be given the training.
“Any time that we can provide education that allows for a positive interaction with someone with autism or any other disorder, it is well worth the time invested in training,” said Assistant Deputy Superintendent and Supervisor of Training Jose Mojica.
Having welcomed the arrival and expansion of the autism awareness curriculum as an important addition to the training academy roster, Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins also noted that it is just one on a lengthy list of important topics about which SCSD members are trained, and spoke about the role of training as a whole with respect to the success of the Department.
“Trainings like these – whether their focus is autism awareness, gender-specific programming, suicide prevention or a multitude of others that we offer - are such a critical part of what helps to make the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department one of the best in the country,” said Sheriff Tompkins. “We are constantly adding new elements and upgrading existing materials to ensure that our staff is well-prepared to deliver the most effective programming and services to those in our care and custody.”
To learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder and the “Light It Up Blue” movement, visit: www.autismspeaks.org/liub.