SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The Salt Lake City Police Department announced it would become the first department in the nation to be Certified Sensory Inclusive™ by KultureCity.
All of Salt Lake’s first responders — SLCPD, SLCFD and 911 Dispatch– will take part in the training.
According to a press release sent to ABC4 News, the training focuses on “instilling understanding, acceptance, and empathy in the City’s first responders toward those who have sensory needs”.
The goal of the training is to help law enforcement interact better with future incidents and to be able to create the best outcomes when officers are called to help.
One of the new programs SLCPD hopes to highlight is the Autism Safe Registry, a voluntary program where people register to provide 911 and officers who respond to calls with information about the needs of the people they may encounter at their address. The database is for emergency responder use only.
“It is my sincere hope that SLCPD is known for being the best trained and well-equipped department to respond with empathy, compassion, and the necessary skills – particularly when interacting with those who are the most vulnerable,” said Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown. “We want to help inclusively and look forward to working with KultureCity.”
“As we work to deepen and diversify the training of our City’s first responders, this KultureCity training provides crucial perspectives and tactics for improving interactions with the people we serve, and taking into account needs we might not be able to see on the surface,” Mayor Erin Mendenhall said. “We’re honored to be working with an organization like KultureCity to take this important step in extending our training.”
The training company brings a team of occupational therapists, behavior therapists, and other medical professionals for the training. The training sessions are 1 hour long followed by testing.
First responders will retest annually to maintain their certification. New hires will also go through the training.
“We are very honored and excited to work with the Salt Lake City Police Department. We are appreciative that SLCPD, and specifically Chief Brown, is stepping up to really move his department in a direction of understanding, acceptance, and inclusion of those with invisible disabilities and sensory needs,” said Founder and CEO of KultureCity Dr. Julian Maha.
Utah Jazz star, Joe Ingles, and his wife Renae are on the board of directors of the training company Kultur City. They have helped both in Utah and in their native Australia in creating sensory inclusive environments as their son has sensory needs.
“As members of this community and advocates for autism awareness, it’s important to my wife and I that our police department and first responders are equipped with this important training for their day-to-day interactions with people who have sensory needs or invisible disabilities,” Ingles said. “One in six people have sensory needs or invisible disabilities. When you think about the number of people officers and first responders encounter every day, it illustrates how important training like this is to creating positive and productive interactions. We’re thrilled SLCPD has committed to making this a part of their ongoing training.”
According to Dr. Maha, four areas are key when interacting with people with sensory needs or invisible disabilities:
- The importance of empathy towards someone with an invisible disability or a sensory need and how common these needs are in society today.
- What to do when engaging with someone who has an invisible disability or a sensory need and recognize that they might have a need.
- Strategies that can help individuals with sensory needs or invisible disabilities adapt to a situation that may be overwhelming.
- How best to close that interaction and help resolve the situation in a positive way.
Once the training is complete, the Salt Lake Police Department will be the first in the United States to be Certified Sensory Inclusive™.