Five years ago, Officer Rob Zink went to a domestic assault scene where a young man had hit his mother. Other officers placed the son into the back of a police car, but Zink convinced them to let him out so they could go on a walk together.
The officers agreed. After several blocks, the young man calmed down and explained that the assault was an accident caused by him getting too excited about something. Although the assault wasn’t normal, the unusual response was. The young man, as it turned out, was autistic.
Zink noticed the son’s behavior as autistic because two of his own children are autistic. He knows that because they’re autistic, they’re more likely to have run-ins with police because of misunderstandings that might end horribly.
Due to his family’s history and this incident, Zink started the Cop Autism Response Education Project, or the CARE Project, in order to teach officers in his area about autism, the autistic spectrum, and how to handle individuals that they respond to that are autistic.
Although the classes were intended for just police officers, he also reaches out to families with autistic children, giving them a helpful guide on how to teach their children, how to handle their outbursts, and how to be gentle so they aren’t scarred.