Autism-Friendly Practices for Law Enforcement

February 08, 2024

Autism New Jersey’s Law Enforcement Initiative aims to bring together individuals and entities in law enforcement and the autism community to identify best practices in a variety of areas and encourage more law enforcement entities to adopt autism-friendly practices. Through this initiative, Autism New Jersey serves a statewide coordination role to facilitate law enforcement agency planning.

Creating a law enforcement environment that is inclusive and accommodating to autistic individuals is crucial for fostering positive interactions and ensuring the safety of both the community and those with autism. Autism-friendly practices for law enforcement involve implementing strategies and training practices to enhance officers’ understanding of autism and equipping individuals in law enforcement with the skills to communicate effectively and respond appropriately to individuals with autism.

Important Notes

Strategy Types

These autism-friendly practices include both proactive and in-the-moment strategies. Developing a comprehensive approach that includes both types of strategies promotes empathy, patience, and flexibility within law enforcement that can significantly contribute to building trust and ensuring the well-being of individuals with autism in various community interactions.

Preliminary List

The practices below are a sample of strategies and outreach methods. Some of these practices are already operational on municipal, county, and State law enforcement levels.

Planning Tool

This list will be expanded over time and enhanced with examples of real-world implementation. Feel free to use the list as a resource for long-term planning and as a tool for agency self-review and quality improvement of existing practices.

Downloadable PDF coming soon! 


Practice & Purpose
Introductions and interactions
To promote a positive and healthy relationship between members of the autistic community and law enforcement
  • Individual meetings
  • Identified autism-friendly liaison/contact
  • Home visits to identify safety risks
To inform law enforcement and other relevant persons that the individual has a disability or health need.
  • ID cards and license notation (e.g. state law)
  • Medical ID bracelet
  • “Child/adult with autism” signage
To enhance the well-being, safety, and support of those on the autism spectrum.
  • Special needs registry
  • Emergency preparedness/OEM (Office of Emergency Management) registry
  • Search and rescue; CART (Child Abduction Response Team)
  • Registry-related car/home decals
Location Devices
To assist with locating individuals if they go missing
  • AngelSense
  • Project Lifesaver
  • Other real-time tracking devices

Driver and Passenger Safety
To ensure safety when interacting with autistic individuals who may be traveling in vehicles
  • Blue envelope program
  • Awareness magnets/decals
  • Mock pullovers
  • Seatbelt covers
Community Safety and Awareness
To increase public awareness of available law enforcement resources intended to ensure the safety of the autistic community and foster a partnership between and among these communities
  • “Coffee with a Cop” and other meet and greet events
  • Listening sessions with autistic and special needs communities
  • Community engagement (e.g., helper days, other school programs incorporating videos and social narratives)
  • Autism organization connections and partnerships
  • “National Night Out” with autism agency representation
County-Level Leadership
To promote law enforcement officer well-being to assist in managing their many and varied roles
  • County Mental Health and Special Needs Working Group with autism representation
  • County Prosecutor’s Office designated liaison(s) for community outreach events and information resource
  • County Prosecutor and autism organization connections and partnerships
To support more effective interaction with autistic individuals by respecting their communication needs
  • Academy and in-service trainings on interaction with autistic community
  • CIT (Crisis Intervention Team)
  • ICAT (Integrating Communications Assessment and Tactics)
  • CLEAR (Community Law Enforcement Affirmative Relations)
  • Roll call videos/refresher trainings
  • PowerDMS and other internal software systems to provide resource information and training accountability
  • NJLearn and other on-line training offerings
Law Enforcement Support
To help ensure successful interactions by accommodating autistic individuals’ various sensory needs
  • ABLE (Active Bystandership in Law Enforcement) training
  • Resiliency training
  • Peer-support outreach networks



Practice & Purpose
Effective Communication
To support more effective interaction with autistic individuals by respecting their communication needs
  • Clear and concise instructions
  • Visual aids and/or written communication
  • Understanding of communication-assisted devices
  • Additional response time
  • Effective coordination and communication with other first responders/EMS (Emergency Medical Services)
Supportive Environment
To help ensure successful interactions by accommodating autistic individuals’ various sensory needs
  • Calm and structured environment
  • Sensory accommodations when responding to calls (e.g., reducing noise, minimizing bright lights)
  • Calm and focused information gathering from family/caregivers
  • “Quiet spaces”
  • Physical personal space considerations
  • De-escalation techniques

Autism New Jersey’s Law Enforcement Initiative intends to serve as a dynamic and ever-evolving statewide effort that will continue to rely on collaboration between the law enforcement and autism communities. Such a working relationship can only further our shared goal of ensuring the safety and wellness of our most vulnerable community members.

Are you a law enforcement officer, prosecutor's office, or work in a related professional role? We welcome the opportunity to connect with you. Please email us at