For Immediate Release – April 24, 2013

John Holl
Union County Prosecutor’s Office

UCPO Distributes Autism Training Video

ELIZABETH, N.J. — Following an in-depth training session, that educated more than 300 law enforcement officers from more than 125 municipalities across the state on recognizing signs of autism, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office has purchased and distributed an instructional video for additional training to all those who attended.

The video, created by nationally renowned autism/law enforcement trainer Dennis Debbaudt of Port St. Lucie, Florida, details numerous scenarios that people diagnosed across the autism spectrum could produce, and ways that officers and first responders can best react.

“The Center for Disease Control predicts that 1 in 49 births in New Jersey will result in a child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder,” said Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow. “Now is the time for law enforcement to be trained in order to help these individuals and their families while avoiding potential pitfalls. The film reinforces the training the officers received earlier this year.”

Mr. Debbaudt held a daylong seminar in late March for officers, school administrators, and others at Union County College in Cranford, and screened parts of the video during his training session. Realizing the benefit that police departments would receive by having a copy, Prosecutor Romankow authorized the use of forfeiture funds to purchase and distribute the video to individual departments.

“There is a no ‘one size fits all’ scenario, so this video will help officers learn critical information that can save a life, give families peace of mind, and deescalate potential dangerous situations,” said Romankow.

The training received an overwhelming positive response by those in attendance, including Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa and Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, that Prosecutor Romankow is currently working with other agencies in the northern and southern parts of the state to have Mr. Debbaudt return for additional training sessions. Prosecutor Romankow aims to have every department in the state have at least one officer trained under this program.

Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow (right)  was joined by Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (left) and Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa at an autism training course in March at Union County College.