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Alabama officers receive sensory-inclusive training



The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is leading the nation on training officers to deal with people with sensory disabilities.

ALEA is the first state police department in the U.S. to have all of its officers certified in sensory-inclusive practices.

That means how to handle situations that involve someone with sensory needs or invisible disabilities like PTSD, autism and dementia.

The sworn personnel who received the training include state troopers, special agents with the Alabama Bureau of Investigations, communication officers and all personnel within ALEA’s driver license division.

Corporal Jeremy Burkett is with the ALEA. He said the training was helpful and needed for officers.

“It goes through a variety of things or individuals that may be facing certain challenges or certain things that they're going through. It breaks it down,” Burkett said. “It kind of gives you perspective and let you think about the different things that you may run into. And it kind of gives you a point of reference for some of those symptoms or some of those disorders, if you will, and maybe how to go in there and address them.”

The training was provided for free by KultureCity, a Birmingham-based non-profit organization focused on helping communities become more accepting and inclusive for people with invisible disabilities. 

Burkett said the officers were provided with hands-on tools along with training.

“They also actually provide us with these bags. So they, every arresting officer law enforcement personnel has been certifying. They send you KultureCity, send you a bag so they actually give you tangible resources that officer can use,” Burkettn said.

ALEA officers are equipped with special sensory aids like nonverbal communication cards and noise-blocking headphones to help them when interacting with people who have sensory issues.

A special decal will also be on all ALEA cars to show that the officer has been certified.

Baillee Majors is the Morning Edition host and a reporter at Alabama Public Radio.
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