Coffee With a Cop aims to improve relations between people with autism, police

Local

MAYFIELD, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The idea of building a strong relationship between civilians and law enforcement agencies can sometimes be a difficult task to achieve. But one local education center has gone above and beyond to create a bond between officers and the community they serve.

“Anytime you can get the police department, whether it’s the Sheriff’s department or the local city police departments involved with communities like this, it benefits everybody,” Fulton County Undersheriff Dan Izzo said. “It benefits the police officers, and it especially benefits the individuals here.”

During the Coffee with a Cop event, law enforcement officers from all over Fulton County met with students from Transitions Learning Center in Gloversville to help build relationships between officers and individuals with learning disabilities, who may not respond to officer commands or understand interactions with local law enforcement.

“Our students may take a little longer to respond, and when they already know someone, or they’ve seen the uniform and they’ve seen it in a really positive setting, and it’s not scary, it just helps them know they can go to a policeman for help and that they are going to help them 100 percent of the time,” Penny Rivenburg, Transitions Learning Center director, said.   

The event also aimed to help officers learn how to communicate with people with autism and understand that they may not be able to respond to commands.

During the event, students interacted and communicated with officers as well as looked at equipment and utilities used by each agency.

“Well, you have to be polite for the officers and they help to keep you safe,” student Josh Corbett said.

According to Undersheriff Izzo, the education that is involved with events like Coffee With a Cop goes a long way in improving relationships between law enforcement and the community.

“It’s tough on the police officers’ side having to handle this individual and understand what they are experiencing and respond appropriately,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing is educating law enforcement and these individuals on how to get the outcome that we both desire.”

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