Interacting with Individuals with Disabilities in Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officials, such as police officers, sheriffs, deputies, and other law enforcement personnel play an important role within our communities in ensuring and maintaining the safety of all citizens. They also hold a significant responsibility. Whether offering assistance, de-escalating a dispute, responding to distress calls, providing security at events, making arrests, or just engaging with citizens while patrolling through the community, our members of law enforcement represent the law and appropriate standards of behavior. They set the example in terms of respecting not only the law, but one another as human beings.
Among the citizens that law enforcement may encounter everyday are individuals with disabilities, both visible and non-visible disabilities. While law enforcement has their protocols and procedures for how to handle certain situations, respond to incidents, investigate situations and crimes, and conduct business, these may need to be adapted when engaging with individuals with a particular disability in order to ensure the interaction and/or service provided to the individual is equal and accessible. For example, if police need to transport a person who uses a wheelchair, it will be important that the vehicle used be able to accommodate the wheelchair. If a sheriff needs to communicate with someone who is deaf, then alternative ways of communicating may need to be utilized to ensure that person hears and understands what is being said. If a deputy encounters a person with a visual impairment who needs directions, verbal directions will need to be explicit and clear. If law enforcement is not aware of the different physical, sensory, cognitive, or psychological disabilities they may encounter, and how to interact in an effective manner with people with these different disabilities, it can mean the difference between a productive and peaceful interaction vs. a negative and detrimental one.
This online training is appropriate for anyone who works in a law enforcement capacity. Participants will learn:
• The definition of “disability” according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
• What legal/ADA compliance considerations there are for law enforcement;
• What “accessibility” is and how to provide it;
• Effective ways to interact with people with different types of disabilities. particularly within typical law enforcement situations; and
• Examples of possible ways to adapt procedures and protocols to ensure maximum effectiveness in communication and interaction with someone with a disability.
- Joe Zesski