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Jazz G Joe Ingles, SLCPD, KultureCity Team For Sensory Training

Joe Ingles #2 of the Utah Jazz handles the ball during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on November 25, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Joe Ingles, guard for the Utah Jazz is teaming with KultureCity and the Salt Lake City Police Department (SLCPD) to become the first police department in the nation to be Certified Sensory Inclusive. KultureCity is a non-profit organization that aims to make everyday environments more inclusive to people with autism and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ingles and wife Renee are the parents of a child with autism and sit on the Kulture City board. Through its training, the SLCPD hopes to highlight its Autism Safe Registry, a voluntary program where people register to provide officers and 911 dispatch responding to a call with important information about the needs of people they may encounter at their address.

KultureCity will offer a team of occupational therapists, behavior therapists, and other members of the medical community to Salt Lake City in November for the training. Once trained, first responders will retest annually for certification, and new hires will also undergo the training. All of Salt Lake City’s first responders will undergo the training, including the SLCPD, SLCFD, and 911 dispatch.

Chief Mike Brown of the SLCPD, at a press conference that included Ingles, said the training is an important step towards serving the Salt Lake City community.

“We cannot afford not to do this training,” Chief Brown said. “It is my sincere hope that the Salt Lake City Police Department is known for being the best trained and well-equipped department to respond with empathy, compassion, and the necessary skills, particularly when interacting with those who are the most vulnerable.”

In September, a Salt Lake City police officer shot a 13-year-old boy with autism spectrum disorder after the boy’s mother called 911 seeking help for her brother who was experiencing a mental health crisis.

The boy survived but was hospitalized for weeks after the shooting.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall, who also attended the meeting, said she hopes the training can help avoid future violent incidents in the community.

“On that night of September 4, a tragedy happened in our community,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “That turned our attention in a bigger way, again, to what can we do better, to train our officers to deal with unique situations? Shortly after that, in this very room, I said to you that we are at the beginning of an evolution in the way our city addresses public safety. And through this work. We will live in a Salt Lake City that is more safe for its residents and for the officers who serve to protect us.”

Ingles is hopeful the training can assist first responders when helping those in need.

“After finding out Jacob’s diagnosis for a couple of years now, you just realize it is not unfair, but Jacob needs to be treated differently to what our daughter Milla does,” Ingles said. “There’s no favoritism there, but it’s completely different.”

Ingles Autism Advocacy

Ingles has been an outspoken voice for Autism awareness since his son’s diagnosis in 2019. Through the Jazz, and several local companies, the Ingles and his wife Renae, a former professional Netball player, have used their platform to raise money to help raise awareness for those with sensory needs.

In April, Chip Cookies partnered with the Ingles and Vivint Gives Back by releasing a gourmet chocolate chip cookie made with semi-sweet chips and dyed blue in honor of Autism Awareness Month.

The cookie company announced on Instagram that a portion of each purchased cookie would fund specialized therapy, sensory spaces, and inclusive community programs for individuals with autism.

Later that month Ingles and KeyBank teamed up to donate $10,000 to KultureCity. In August, Ingles worked with Andrew Lewis, a shoe customizer, on a pair of custom sneakers to wear during the NBA’s restart to raise Autism awareness.