By Sandi Rosenbaum, Littman Krooks LLP
People with disabilities, particularly mental or developmental disabilities, are often injured and sometimes killed in the course of their interactions with police. A number of police forces, particularly in Westchester County, have begun to train new recruits in awareness of these disabilities; that the presentation of individuals with these conditions, who rarely pose any threat, differs from those who threaten public safety, and how; and how to use de-escalation techniques to reduce the individual’s agitation to have a safe and productive encounter. While this is an important step, many longer-serving police officers have minimal training in this crucial area.
People with disabilities (especially if they are also people of color) cannot count on the police they encounter to respond to them appropriately and must learn many rules for safe engagement, to the extent of their capacities, with law enforcement to reduce the chances of a tragic outcome. Many people with disabilities are voting members of society and can advocate for law enforcement training and other policies that promote allowing them and their communities to enjoy equal protection under the law.
ASAN, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, has been at the forefront of providing plain language guides to many societal issues affecting people with disabilities. Their latest publication, produced in concert with the American Association of People with Disabilities and Green Mountain Self-Advocates, is called “What is Police Violence?” and is available here.
Like most of ASAN’s plain-language publications, it is designed to address concerns of people with a variety of disabling conditions as well as those with autism. Other important guides in this series are available here under the heading “Easy Read/Accessible Policy” and touch on voting, contacting elected officials, employment policy, Medicaid and other important topics.
Attorneys at Littman Krooks are available to answer your questions and we are open for business, in accordance with NYS Directives, as of Tuesday, June 9, 2020. You may schedule a consultation either in person or remotely. Tune in to our webinar, “Planning for the 2020-21 School Year and Tips to Help Your Struggling Child,” on June 17, 2020 at 10:00 AM (EST) for the latest. Register here.