Tennessee State Troopers trained to help people with disabilities

WSMV THP's new sensory program
WSMV THP's new sensory program
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 7:45 AM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Tennessee Highway Patrol made a move on Wednesday to become sensory-inclusive.

The agency partnered with KultureCity, a non-profit that teaches and trains organizations, like THP, on how to provide for individuals with sensory needs or those with invisible disabilities.

“The training we received helps us deal with individuals in stressful situations,” THP Colonel Matt Perry said. “We all know interaction with law enforcement creates stress for everyone, not just people with autism. Certainly, people with PTSD, adults with dementia, Parkinson’s disease.”

The THP is only the second state law enforcement agency to partner with KultureCity. They are also the first law enforcement agency in the state to have its troopers trained to be sensory-inclusive. Each trooper will receive a sensory bag “to help lessen sensory overload and help troopers engage individuals with sensory needs.”

“I am excited and proud of the Tennessee Highway Patrol for partnering with KultureCity to better train and understand individuals with sensory needs. We want everyone to feel safe traveling the highways of Tennessee.”

Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long

Brad Meshell has a 3-year-old son who has autism.

“You want to be aware of that before you react. Some autistic kids are non-verbal. Some of them have tendencies to if you open up a car door they will just run,” Meshell said. “They typically don’t react well to strangers.”

Meshell said he is happy with the continuing education of THP.

“So, for Tennessee Highway Patrol officers to be educated and be able to react and recognize those signs I think will better their job,” Meshell said.

According to KultureCity, 1 in 6 individuals in the U.S. have a sensory processing need. These are things such as PTSD, autism, dementia, or strokes. KultureCity provides training that focuses on the following four items:

  • The importance of empathy towards someone with a sensory need and how common these needs are in society today.
  • What to do when engaging with someone who has a sensory need, and how to recognize the need.
  • Strategies that can be used to help individuals with sensory needs to adapt to a situation that may be overwhelming.
  • How best to resolve the interaction and situation in a positive way.

“This is a great step with law enforcement to just when you are having a routine traffic stop that it doesn’t become unroutine,” Speaker of House Cameron Sexton said.

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