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LAW ENFORCEMENT COMPASSION IN FORCE:Mom thanks police for kindness shown to her autistic son; PLEASE SEE LOCAL SECTION.

 

Logan Mundt is an escape artist. Even while surrounded by his mother, his brother and half a dozen police officers, the 17-year-old boy managed to slip outside and wander across the street.

“Where’s Logan?” came his mom’s familiar refrain.

Francine Mundt briskly checked GPS on her cellphone, which tracks Logan’s. And then she and a couple of officers rounded him up from a nearby sidewalk.

It was just another day in the life of the Mundt family — although Logan’s getaways usually don’t occur at a police station.

Logan has severe autism. With limited language, he mostly communicates by grunting and screaming. He rarely follows directions and, simply put, wants what he wants.

Strangely, this sort of scenario was exactly what brought Mundt and her sons to the Huntington Beach Police Department on a recent afternoon. Despite windows nailed shut and doors key-locked from the inside, Logan vanishes from his

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Section 13515.25 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

 

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.

 Section 13515.25 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

13515.25.

 (a) The Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training shall, on or before June 30, 2001, establish and keep updated a continuing education classroom training course relating to law enforcement interaction with developmentally disabled and mentally ill persons. The training course shall be developed by the commission in consultation with appropriate community, local, and state organizations and agencies that have expertise in the area of mental illness and developmental disability, and with appropriate consumer and family advocate groups. In developing the course, the commission shall also examine existing courses certified by the commission that relate to mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons. The commission shall make the course available to law enforcement agencies in California.(b) The course described in subdivision (a) shall consist of classroom instruction and shall utilize interactive training methods to ensure that the training is as realistic as possible. The course shall include, at a minimum, core instruction in all of the following:(1) The cause and nature of mental illnesses and developmental disabilities.(2) How to identify indicators of mental illness and developmental disability and how to respond appropriately in a variety of common situations.(3) Conflict resolution and de-escalation techniques for potentially dangerous situations involving mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons.(4) Appropriate language usage when interacting with mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons.(5) Alternatives to lethal force when interacting with potentially dangerous mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons.(6) Community and state resources available to serve mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons and how these resources can be best utilized by law enforcement to benefit the mentally ill and developmentally disabled community.(c) The commission shall submit a report to the Legislature by October 1, 2003, that shall include all of the following:(1) A description of the process by which the course was established, including a list of the agencies and groups that were consulted.(2) Information on the number of law enforcement agencies that utilized, and the number of officers that attended, the course or other courses certified by the commission relating to mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons from July 1, 2001, to July 1, 2003, inclusive.(3) Information on the number of law enforcement agencies that utilized, and the number of officers that attended, courses certified by the commission relating to mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons from July 1, 2000, to July 1, 2001, inclusive.(d) The Legislature encourages law enforcement agencies to include the course created in this section, or any other course certified by the commission relating to mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons, as part of their advanced officer training program.(e) It is the intent of the Legislature to reevaluate, on the basis of its review of the report required in subdivision (c), the extent to which law enforcement officers are receiving adequate training in how to interact with mentally ill and developmentally disabled persons. 

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‘Don’t judge so quickly’Police killing of man with autism could have been prevented with training,

 

nytime there’s a shooting in the news, dread floods Lillian Vasquez.

“Please,” she thinks, “let the victim not be someone with autism.”

Vasquez, whose 25-year-old son is moderately autistic, was dismayed to learn Sunday that a young man with a cognitive disability was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in a Costco in Corona, half an hour from her home.

The man who was killed, Kenneth French, pushed the officer while waiting in a line for samples, according to his family’s lawyer and the Los Angeles Police Department. An attorney for the officer says he was briefly knocked out by the attack.

“I fear people are going to be afraid of people with autism when things like this happen,” said Vasquez, vice president of the Autism Society Inland Empire.

Although developmentally disabled people are no more likely to act aggressively than the general population, advocates say, dealing with public meltdowns and socially inappropriate behavior is a constant reality for many caregivers. And for the most part, they’re well-versed in how to ease the anxiety that leads to such flare-ups.

But the Costco shooting underscores the need for greater understanding of disability among law enforcement officers and society at large, advocates say.

“If you see someone acting in a way that seems bizarre or doesn’t make sense to you, try to step back and view it from a different lens,” said Donna Norum, chief programs officer of day services for OPARC, a Los Angeles nonprofit that helps disabled people function in the world. “There may be more to this story than you realize.”

What exactly happened at Costco on June 14 is unclear. Surveillance video hasn’t been released, and the incident is still under investigation.

An attorney for the LAPD officer, identified by multiple sources as Salvador Sanchez, said Sanchez was getting a food sample for his son when he was attacked and briefly knocked out by French.

Civil rights attorney Dale K. Galipo, who is representing the French family, said French’s father stepped between him and the officer and explained that his son had a mental disability. Sanchez, authorities say, then shot French, 32, his father and his mother, who were both hospitalized in critical condition.

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Teen in Pine View bomb scare is sentenced to probation

 “He feels guilt and remorse, yes, but differently,” Flint said, referring to Farnsworth being diagnosed with a mild, yet high-functioning form of autism and severe depression. The diagnosis was .made by a mental health expert as a part of an evaluation connected to the pre-sentencing report. “Martin doesn't react much,” he said. “That’s the nature of autism spectrum disorder. He’s very quiet and introverted.”

Farnsworth’s autism was an angle largely ignored by the state, Flint said, which led to him being treated as a common criminal rather than as someone who needed additional consideration.

“Individuals with autism have a difficult time understanding how other people feel, and have a difficult time processing their own feelings when they are bullied or made fun of or even when they interact normally with other people, they’re going to react differently, and it’s like none of that mattered,” he said.

“He committed a crime, no doubt about that, but it seems like nobody’s noticing that he’s autistic and he needs help.”

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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About the Author

Mori KesslerMori Kessler serves as a Senior Reporter for St. George News, having previously contributed as a writer and Interim Editor in 2011-12, and an assistant editor from 2012 to mid-2014. He began writing news as a freelancer in 2009 for Today in Dixie, and joined the writing staff of St. George News in mid-2010. He is also a shameless nerd and has a bad sense of direction, often telling people go left while he is pointing right. Numbers greater than five also confuse him.

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Are teen drug sales on Snapchat, social media on the rise? Local law enforcement officers weigh in

 

A study published in January by the National Institutes of Health reported more than three-quarters of those interviewed said they’d used Snapchat to buy drugs. Instagram was the next most popular, with around one in five saying they’d used it to arrange deals. WhatsApp, Kik and Wickr were all also frequently cited, with Tinder and Grindr also among the apps used to buy and sell drugs.

The general rule is that social media provides the platform for connecting buyers and sellers, then deals take place using encrypted communication services, the study says, and this can be particularly dangerous for teens.

Snapchat has implemented community guidelines to “support our mission by encouraging the broadest range of self-expression while making sure Snapchatters can use our services safely every day,” while prohibiting the posting of sexually explicit photos, bullying messages, impersonation, illegal sales or spam and so on.

Even so, the site has become a virtual black market for illegal drug sales by teens as young as 13-years old, the National Institutes study shows. Additionally, drug dealers have implemented their own marketing strategies by using hashtags and emojis to indicate which drugs they sell and some even share images of the substances.

St. George Police Capt. Mike Giles told St. George News there are a number of tactics individuals use to market illegal substances, and those involved in this type of activity will use social media outlets or “whatever means they can” to market the drugs.

Without getting into specifics, Giles went on to say the Washington County Drug Task Force is trained and equipped to investigate the various means by which narcotics are distributed and sold – including sales involving the internet.

“Drug dealers are opportunists,” one Washington County officer who preferred to remain anonymous said, adding that the Snapchat design model is the perfect venue for buying and selling drugs.

What other marketing tool can advertise an entire product line to all of its customers at that same time? Just post photos of the merchandise being sold and then wait for the private messages for orders to start rolling in.

Those private, one-on-one messages can be used to set a time and place for the actual drug sale, then disappear even faster than an image posted. In other words, there is no record of a specific transaction between the vendor and customer, and even if there was, anyone using the site for illicit activity would be using an alias so as not to be identified.

Drug sales on social media “is a huge problem right now,”Sgt. Jeff Malcom with the Beaver/Iron/Garfield Counties Narcotics Task Force said, adding that drugs are not only bought and sold on Snapchat or Instagram either.

Facebook is not only a site to connect with friends, it has also become a fertile marketplace for the drug trade using secret Facebook groups and chats.

Setting up a secret Facebook group is one way dealers are able to sell narcotics without fear of being identified. While the groups are easy to set up, access to those groups can be very difficult for law enforcement to infiltrate, and for a parent the task is even harder, the Washington County officer said.

Those in the groups can communicate with each other using chats that can be deleted quickly or even automatically, making it difficult to trace the activity, and Facebook Messenger even has a built-in function for sending and receiving payments.

The officer added that apps are always changing. For example, there are dozens of apps that allow parents to see where their children’s phones are at any given time, but they all have one fatal flaw – it is easy to spoof locations to make it look like the phone is somewhere else.

“We have become so integrated with smartphones and apps to take care of many things in our lives, so we think putting a tracker or parental controls on our kids’ phones will keep them out of harm’s way,” he said. “But the reality is that it gives parents a false sense of security.”

He continued by saying that kids are smart, and parents need to take the time to catch up with technology that their children quickly to adapt to with the ever-changing cyber environment they have grown up in.

“It’s not enough to look at your child’s phone; you have to know what you’re looking for,” the officer said.

Every person interviewed for this story expressed one consistent theme – there is no substitute for parenting.

The bottom line, Malcom said, is that “parents have to be involved with their kids. You can’t just give them a cell phone and think everything’s going to be OK.”

There are a myriad dangers out there, he continued, and buying or selling drugs is just one problem. “There are also a lot of predators out here.”

“Be involved, I mean be really involved in your child’s life and know what they are doing. That’s the most important thing,” Malcom added.

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Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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About the Author

Cody BlowersCody Blowers was raised in South San Francisco, California. A 2013 graduate of Colorado Technical University, Cody earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in paralegal studies. Through the course of her academic studies she discovered that writing is her true passion, and she is committed to providing credible, integrated news coverage. Cody joined St. George News in 2015, and when she’s not busy chasing the news, she can generally be found chasing her young granddaughter, Kali.

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Los Angeles County officials launched a program Wednesday to help locate people with autism, Alzheim

 

L.A. County launches tracking program to find people with dementia and others who wander

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