SAN ANTONIO -- Teens and young adults with cognitive disorders from the San Antonio area got together on Saturday with local law enforcement to learn skills that would help them interact with police.
Emily Iland was inspired to produce and write a movie called "Be Safe" when her autistic son became old enough to drive, and she knew he could potentially be interacting with law enforcement. The movie has episodes that teach people with autism what the police do and how to communicate effectively with them.
"Autism is a developmental disability that affects communication and socialization, so someone with autism might struggle in a social interaction with police because they wouldn't know what to do," Iland said.
Two weeks ago, police shot a caregiver of an autistic patient in Florida. Later, a police union spokesperson said the officer actually meant to shoot the patient because he thought the patient was a threat.
Police officers who attended Saturday's workshop said, given incidents like that one, it is especially important for everyone to learn to follow police directions.
"When police officers approach, stop and do exactly what the police officer tells you. That's the message that's being taught here today," said Chief William McManus of the San Antonio Police Department.
16-year-old Hunter Simpson said after Saturday's workshop he feels more comfortable with police.
"I learned how you should never run away from the police, that you should never fight with them and you should never argue with them," he said.
His mom thinks this kind of training is important.
"If you can't communicate with the police, and you're under stress that's probably the worst scenario imaginable," Jamie Gifford said.