Utah Highway Patrol Receives Autism Sensory Bag Donations


On Wednesday, Oct. 5, the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) was gifted valuable tools and information that will aid officers who encounter individuals with autism.

This was gifted by the Autism Council of Utah and Doug Smith Subaru at the UHP Section 4 Murray Office. As those with autism process experiences differently, their experiences with law enforcement can, at times, be a challenge for them and officers alike.

“Behaviors that could be interpreted as suspicious or even criminal can sometimes be very different than first observed,” shared the UHP. “For several years now, troopers have been receiving valuable training, learning how to recognize and deescalate encounters involving individuals with autism.”

The generous donation that was received gives the troopers extra tools to deescalate and resolve a potentially stressful situation.

Cheryl Smith of the Autism Council of Utah explained that they want every law enforcement vehicle in the state of Utah to have a sensory bag. Bags include noise-cancelling headphones, fidget toys, resource cards and more. She stated that it was an idea that she had to help law enforcement, as they want the encounters to be a win-win situation.

“We are very thankful for a gift from Doug Smith Subaru to make this happen,” said Smith. “Hopefully that will help somebody who has autism and a law enforcement person so they can have a positive experience.”

In total, 600 bags were delivered to UHP and Smith assured that they want to give every officer the chance to have a bag. UHP Lt. Terry Buck spoke on the donations, stating that they are grateful to possess the ability to be able to interact with individuals with autism in the manner that will result in positive interactions.

“We appreciate this donation,” Lt. Buck said. “Our end goal is always public safety, and it doesn’t matter who it is, it’s everybody out there.”

He continued by stating that if it helps interacting with even one autistic individual in a positive manner, they have reached their goal.

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