RCCC to host law enforcement symposium on intellectual disabilities

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 6, 2018

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

SALISBURY — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College will host a symposium on Oct. 11-12 at the Kannapolis Police Department to train law enforcement officers to work with victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities.

Because there has been little to no training for officers on how to interview people with intellectual disabilities, Rowan-Cabarrus decided to create a training program from scratch.

Although they are rarely offenders, many times intellectually disabled people are victims and witnesses to crime. In a number of cases, officers have used undue force in dealing with people with intellectual disabilities.

“When there is a need within our community going unaddressed, the college feels we should step up and respond accordingly to meet that need and support the communities we serve,” said college President Carol S. Spalding. “We have designed a training session that will be beneficial and encourage greater public safety for all citizens within the Rowan-Cabarrus community.”

The two-day symposium will include leading experts and clinicians in fields such as interview techniques, autism and traumatic brain injuries. The target audience is law enforcement officers who are looking to strengthen their ability to support and work with people who have intellectual disabilities.

Speakers will discuss four significant elements in peer group settings on the topic of interviewing people with Down syndrome, mental delay, autism and traumatic brain injury.

“Interviews with individuals with intellectual disabilities often require different techniques and a great deal of patience,” said Chuck Adams, law enforcement in-service training coordinator at Rowan-Cabarrus. “It may take days or weeks to build trust and rapport to conduct an interview.”

Panelists will include Don Rabon, president of Successful Interviewing Techniques; Gwen Bartley of Amazing Grace Advocacy; Nancy Popkin of the Autism Society of North Carolina; and Patrick King, a Pfeiffer College graduate with autism.

Cabarrus County Assistant District Attorney Ashley Shanley will review case studies and legal challenges on the topic.

“We are proud to support Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in this important effort. The more we can educate our law enforcement professionals about how to work with individuals with intellectual disabilities like autism, the better,” said Popkin.

Trainees will learn skills and tactics to overcome barriers primarily associated with victim and witness interview techniques. Learning objectives will include understanding emotional triggers and how to de-escalate and gain control of interviews. Training will include discussion of concerns such as environmental factors, distractions, and documentation requirements.

“Our primary goal is to serve all segments of our population who are victimized,” said Adams. “In order to effectively conduct the duties of policing, one must understand the facts of a case, ultimately to gain the truth. As a profession, we need to address training in dealing with these types of situations.”

For more information on the symposium, contact Adams at 704-216-3745.

For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, visit www.rccc.edu/apply or call 704-216-7222.