Rowan-Cabarrus offers training session to local law enforcement officers

SALISBURY, N.C. — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College will host a two-day symposium on October 11 – 12, 2018 at the Kannapolis Police Department (401 Laureate Way Kannapolis, NC) to train law enforcement officers on working with victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities.

To date, there has been little to no training for officers on how to conduct interviews with individuals with intellectual disabilities and noticing an unfilled need for these vital skills prompted Rowan-Cabarrus to create something from scratch. Although these individuals are rarely the offenders, many times they are victims and witnesses. There have also been a number of cases where officers involved have used undue force while dealing with individuals with intellectual disabilities that have garnered significant media attention.

“When there is a need within our community going unaddressed, the College feels we should step up and respond accordingly to meet that need and support the communities we serve,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “We have designed a training session that will be beneficial and encourage greater public safety for all citizens within the Rowan-Cabarrus community.”

One of the first training sessions of its kind, the two-day symposium event will include leading experts and clinicians in fields such as interview techniques, autism, traumatic brain injuries, and more. The target audience for this event is law enforcement officers who are looking to strengthen their ability to support and work with individuals with intellectual disabilities.

There will be multiple speakers discussing four significant elements within peer group settings on the topic of interviewing individuals with Down Syndrome, mental delay, autism, and traumatic brain injuries.

“Interviews with individuals with intellectual disabilities often require different techniques and a great deal of patience,” said Chuck Adams, Law Enforcement In-Service Training coordinator at Rowan-Cabarrus. “It may take days or weeks to build trust and rapport to conduct an interview.”

During this symposium, panelists will include world-renowned interviewer, Don Rabon, president of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), Gwen Bartley from Amazing Grace Advocacy, Nancy Popkin from Autism Society of North Carolina, and Patrick King, a Pfeiffer College graduate with autism. Additionally, Cabarrus County Assistant District Attorney Ashley Shanley will be present to review case studies and legal challenges for working with individuals with intellectual disabilities.

“We are proud to support Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in this important effort. The more we can educate our law enforcement professionals about how to work with individuals with intellectual disabilities like autism, the better,” said Nancy Popkin, Autism Resource Specialist, from Autism Society of North Carolina.

Attendees will learn skills and tactics for overcoming hurdles and barriers primarily associated with victim and witness interview techniques when working with individuals with intellectual disabilities. Learning objectives will include understanding emotional triggers and how to de-escalate and gain control of interviews in hopes of reducing the impact on victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities. Training will include preparation for the interview and discussion of concerns such as environmental factors, distractions, and documentation requirements.

“The hope is to make this an annual event. This symposium is a very proactive step and Rowan-Cabarrus is ready to lead the charge on this important issue. Our primary goal is to serve all segments of our population who are victimized,” said Adams. “In order to effectively conduct the duties of policing, one must understand the facts of a case, ultimately to gain the truth. As a profession, we need to address training in dealing with these types of situations.”

For more information on the symposium, contact Chuck Adams at 704-216-3745.

For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit or call 704-216-RCCC (7222). The College is currently accepting applications for eight-week minimester classes beginning October 19, 2018.