Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 1278–1283 | Cite as

Brief Report: Descriptive Analysis of Law Enforcement Officers’ Experiences with and Knowledge of Autism

  • Lauren GardnerEmail author
  • Jonathan M. Campbell
  • June Westdal
Brief Report


Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may interact with law enforcement officers (LEOs) as victims of crime, witnesses to crime, or suspects of crime. Interactions between LEOs and those with ASD may go awry which raises questions about levels of training, experiences, and knowledge acquired by LEOs. Seventy-two LEOs reported on their experiences and training related to ASD and completed a survey of autism knowledge. The majority (72.2%) of LEOs reported no formal training for interacting with individuals with ASD. For LEOs responding to calls involving ASD, officers with prior training reported better preparation. Officers’ responses to the knowledge survey varied considerably. Results support the need for formalized training in ASD for LEOs.


Autism spectrum disorder Law enforcement Experiences Training Knowledge 


Author Contributions

LG conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination and drafted the manuscript; JMC participated in the design and interpretation of the data; JW participated in the design and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All the author declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Johns Hopkins All Children’s HospitalSt. PetersburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational, School, and Counseling PsychologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  3. 3.Division of Clinical Behavioral NeuroscienceUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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