After Moody MS confrontation, autism advocate calls for enhanced resource officer training

HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) – The fallout continued on Tuesday after the release of security footage showing a Moody Middle School resource officer tackling and handcuffing a 12-year-old boy who has autism.

The video shows the officer pinning down the struggling boy for more than five minutes.

8News reporter Matthew McClellan sat down with a special needs advocate who said she is saddened and disturbed by the video, telling him there needs to be better training on how to deal with children who are on the autism spectrum.

“All of that is unnecessary,” said Chesterfield-based special needs advocate Pam Mines as she watched the video.

“He has his arm bent. This young man is small. I don’t understand why this gentleman is not saying anything,” Mines said, gesturing toward a school employee seen standing aside in the video, “but that officer’s full body weight on him can only make things worse.”

The boy’s mother said he became agitated after his computer was taken away at school. He can be seen walking outside and throwing a few twigs before the forceful confrontation.

“At no point did I see that this young man was causing harm to himself or others,” Mines said,” “and that’s when I think restraint should be given.” Mines’ own son, JP, has autism.

“All I can think about is my son, because of how small he is and how he might not be compliant when someone has something to say,” she told 8News.

That’s why she has taken on the task of partnering with local police departments to help officers better understand the behaviors that go with autism. “This video shows me that we need to get more involved in the schools, get school resource officers to visit those classrooms regularly,” Mines said.

“If the officer knows that young man, he can maybe deescalate the situation or calm him down with a high five or a special song they sing or something,” Mines explained, “just spend some time in the classroom and say hi and learn about autism.”

The mother of the boy who was tackled told 8News that the unnamed officer had been reassigned to a different school. We reached out to Henrico police to find out what training is in place when it comes to people with intellectual disabilities. “All of our sworn officers have received at least 40 hours of crisis intervention training,” said Lieutenant Chris Garrett. “Part of this training focuses on de-escalation techniques.”

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