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Fort Bend County Trains Law Enforcement to Respond to Autistic Residents


August 23, 2020

By Natalie Cook Clark

The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office has teamed up with a local non-profit group to train deputies how to interact with residents, especially those with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Photo courtesy: Darla Farmer

Since 2014, the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office (FBCSO) has offered and required Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. This training helps their team best respond to various situations.

Partnering With Local Non-Profits

The FBCSO partnered with local non-profit, Hope For Three to raise awareness and help deputies understand how to better respond to members of the community with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

“It’s pivotal to partner with community organizations that raise awareness, reduce stigma, and use intentional care to help bridge the gaps that historically existed between law enforcement and the total community that it serves,” says Sergeant Jerome Ellis, the lead instructor for CIT.

Hope for Three Provides Training Insight

Darla Farmer, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Hope For Three, was the approved presenter. Hope For Three is a 501c3 local nonprofit providing resources, referrals and support to families and children living with autism. Farmer provided insight and expertise during the developmental disability competency unit.

“Additionally, she invites adults living with autism to speak to the class which adds an additional, yet crucial, perspective to those participating in the training,” says Sgt. Ellis.

Awareness, Education, Programs

Hope For Three also creates awareness through outreach, education and events, and offers many programs serving the entire family unit. Recently, Hope For Three formed a new program, Police Traffic Stops & Positive Driver Outcomes.

“This is an interactive, engaging session that addresses the need to put drivers with autism, and law enforcement, at ease during traffic stops and other interactions, and increase safer driving behaviors,” explains Darla Farmer.

“Any case where we can offer mental health resources rather than incarceration is beneficial to the community,” says Sgt. Ellis.

Over 1800 Officers Trained on Autism Engagement Strategies

Since 2014, over 1,800 officers and members of law enforcement from the Greater Houston area, and surrounding counties, have received training on the characteristics of autism and engagement strategies. CIT training educates first responders on intervention techniques to diffuse crisis situations for individuals with autism and or those affected by mental illness.

Hope for Three is hosting a “Virtual Family Walk, Run, Stroll or Roll” event that runs from September 5-13.

To learn more about Hope For Three, and upcoming events, visit their website or Facebook page.


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