LEWISVILLE — It's the classroom Brent Carmichael has been pushing to teach in — the briefing room at the Lewisville Police Department.
“It feels good to have your work recognized,” said the director of 4-U Academy.
Carmichael recently trained more than 60 officers on how to deal with autistic children or adults on the job.
The program also includes a decal that families can post on their homes and cars. The sticker gives first responders the first clue they need before making contact.
Lewisville PD is the first department to recognize the decal.
“If they see someone fidgeting or acting unusual in a traffic stop and they [officers] see the decal, they will know that there is someone with autism in the car,” Carmichael explained.
He created the program and the sticker to protect his son, Artest, who has the disability.
“My biggest fear is that he has a run-in with law enforcement through an accident or an emergency,” Carmichael said.
Lights, sirens and traffic can affect a person with autism, possibly triggering a negative reaction. Lack of cooperation, delayed responses and aggressive behavior are responses that can trigger officers to use force.
“Sometimes that force really isn't necessary if you are dealing with an affected individual,” said Lewisville police Sgt. Jessie Hunter. “It can be misconceiving. You could think that you have a violent individual... really you have someone that has that condition.“
Hunter said the decal can help officers see the signs, and modify their response.
“You probably walk away thinking, 'Man, I'm glad that it didn't go any worse than it really did, because it has the possibility of getting pretty bad,'” Hunter said.
Avoiding confrontation to keep all sides safe — that’s Brent Carmichael’s mission.
“Bottom line — that’s what I hope to do,” he said. “First thing, save lives.”
For more information on the program, how to sign up and the requirements for the sticker, contact 4-U Academy.