‘Today Alabama leads’: State partners with KultureCity for sensory-inclusive training
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - State troopers across Alabama are now certified to help those with sensory needs, mental health challenges and invisible disabilities.
“Today, Alabama has become the leader for sensory diversity and inclusion for the entire nation.”
Ivey announced Tuesday the state partnered with KultureCity to provide training and certification to all sworn officers within the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. The certification will help troopers better handle situations with individuals who have sensory needs like autism, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease and more.
KultureCity founder Dr. Julian Maha created the organization to teach inclusion and understanding after his 7-year-old son was diagnosed with sensory issues.
“I have two boys. The oldest has a sensory and invisible disability and me being an emergency medicine physician, obviously one of the concerns of having a son is how their reaction would be with an interaction with law enforcement,” Maha said.
“Too often we have citizens with sensory issues or folks who may have PTSD, autism, dementia, and a whole host of special needs that frankly, our heroes in blue haven’t been trained to deal with up to this point, " Ivey said. “In the past, if law enforcement doesn’t know how to properly access a person’s needs, situations may have escalated needlessly when they didn’t have to.”
According to KultureCity, people with invisible disabilities tend to react differently and can get overwhelmed more easily than neurotypical individuals due to sensory sensitivities.
“So, instead of taking a person to the emergency room or jail, our law enforcement can properly differentiate between somebody who is being combative or argumentative with someone who may simply be struggling with an overwhelming or physically painful sensory issues,” Ivey added.
Maha thinks that after the COVID-19 shutdown sensory issues increased.
“I think everyone on some level after being self quarantined last year can relate to being sensory deprived and now coming back into the world with that feeling of overwhelmingness,” said Maha. “I think on some level all of us have sensory needs.
ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor said responding to situations where an individual has an invisible disability can be challenging. Taylor says the training provided by KultureCity was not only something the department needed but something they were lacking.
“Know we know what to look for, how to handle those situations and what to do,” Taylor said.
Along with the certification, each trooper will be given a sensory bag designed to help sensory needs in both adults and children. The bags include items that can help lessen sensory overload and engage. All ALEA vehicles will also display a decal showing they are certified. Troopers are required to re-certify every year.
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