Currently, Americans are all too aware of how tragedy can arise from violent escalations in law enforcement encounters with marginalized civilians, particularly for people of color, individuals with mental illness, and people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). According to NAMI Illinois, nearly half of individuals who die as a result of police interactions have a disability of some kind. Even one death is too many, and this number indicates a grave need for improving outcomes for people with disabilities’ police interactions.
Strategies for Improving Interactions Between Police and People With IDD
Some key strategies for improving outcomes for people with IDD in interactions with law enforcement professionals include the following:
Train law enforcement staff how to identify individuals with IDD. Trauma and tragedy can be prevented by high-quality police training on intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as how to identify people with IDD and choose an appropriate approach to exchanges with them.
Collaborate with IDD experts and advocates on best practices. When police departments work with disability authorities, it creates valuable learning opportunities and resources for both. Collaboration can result in enhanced safety for people with disabilities, both in encounters with police and in emergency situations.
Create humane and equitable policies for interactions with adults who have IDD. Better law enforcement policies for civilians with differing needs gives police officers more tools for success and provides greater protection for people with IDD. Such policies can also provide communities with clearer expectations for encounters with law officers and more trusting relationships.
Conduct more research on the needs of people with disabilities. Government and law agency support for IDD-related research can help to inform ongoing professional development for public servants. It should include input from individuals with disabilities and their families as well as clinicians.
Improve Outcomes With Progressive Lifestyles
Progressive Lifestyles, Inc. is dedicated to providing innovative support services for people with disabilities. Our mission is to provide supportive and caring residential opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Oakland County, Michigan. We also partner with the Waterford Police Department to create mutual learning opportunities that improve outcomes for people with IDD.
A primary focus of our organization is to interact with the individuals we support through the “Culture of Gentleness” model. We seek to create a positive environment to help them feel safe and valued while maximizing praise, limiting demands, maintaining consistent structure, and reducing stress during transitions.