sb 3201 senate

SPRINGFIELD —State Senator Natalie Toro’s legislation requiring officers to go through autism-informed responses in their training passed the Senate, making it one step closer to becoming law.

“Law enforcement need to be aware of the unique communication challenges people with autism may have, especially in a more stressful situation like having an encounter with a police officer, and how that may make them appear noncompliant,” said Toro (D-Chicago). “By mandating autism sensitivity training, we are ensuring police have a deeper understanding of how to best engage with people with disabilities in their community and prevent misunderstandings that could turn tragic.”

While people with autism may be able to manage their communication differences or behavioral challenges with supports at school, work, or in their daily lives, they may experience unique challenges when interacting with police. Without proper training on how some people with autism communicate, law enforcement may interpret their behavior as being noncompliant with questioning or instructions. This has caused interactions between law enforcement and individuals with autism to escalate quickly, resulting in unnecessary use of force, trauma or death.

Senate Bill 3201 would require law enforcement to go through training on autism-informed responses, as well as best procedures and techniques when engaging with individuals with autism. The legislation would require all law enforcement officers and correction officers to complete this training every three years.  

“This bill came to me from parents of children with autism who worry law enforcement may misunderstand their child’s communication behavior and use excessive force on them,” said Toro. “Law enforcement are sworn to protect the public, not inflict harm on them. I believe this law will help them fulfil these duties and better understand the people they serve.” 

Senate Bill 3201 passed the Senate on Friday. It now goes to the House for further consideration.