14. Disabilities and Law Enforcement
[Shamus O'Meara - OLWK] …really, really important issue and it exists in a number of different settings. One of the issues we see it in is in public schools.
So cops will get called in on a behavioral issue, and if they're not trained, they're coming in under their badge. They're not taking direction from the administration.
And very often, and it's very unfortunate, students with developmental disabilities are getting thrown in jail.
There is an opportunity out there to have appropriate training with the police agencies and the school districts as, you know, joint departmental training.
So that as cops come in, they are… come into a situation where perhaps the Special Education Director, or Assistant Special Education Director, or the case manager of a student who is at risk, is there or on the phone so that they can talk about their condition, and the cops have been trained to recognize the behavior of a student with a developmental disability, so that they can maybe help de-escalate that situation in the classroom, as opposed to slapping the cuffs on him.
I know that the Disability Law Center worked with MPD – is that right Pam? – on some of the behavioral recognition issues, and there was some initiation with the legislature that I don't think went anywhere on this.
But I am an advocate for cooperation between the Department of Education, between local school districts, and local police agencies on this issue, because it's critical.