Latrea Wyche/Contributing Writer
In recent months, law enforcement across the country has come under fire for incidents of police brutality within African American communities. The brutal death of George Ford has caused America to take a closer look at the people who are armed with the charge of “protect and serve” but instead chooses to shoot and kill. Police brutality is nothing new, and this not just an African American thing, people with disabilities have had to deal with some of the same treatment. According to a report done by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a disability organization, proposes that while police interactions with minorities draw increasing scrutiny, disability and health considerations are still neglected in media coverage and law enforcement policy. I know you are probably sick of me making everything about people with disabilities, but these are the un-talked about issues that our community faces on a daily, basis but yet, they receive no attention.
When police officers encounter a person with a disability, they do not have the proper training to handle the situation. That’s where it all starts, training. with such a large population of disabled people in America, it would seem like common sense to me, for police officers to receive some type of training on how to handle a person with a disability. For example, when arresting a deaf person or a person with a hearing impairment, cops should not cuff them with their hands behind their back because in most cases, they use their hands to communicate, it would be kinda difficult to communicate with their hands behind their back. Another question how many police forces in America offer basic sign language courses, some would argue it would be a waste of time, but you never know as a cop when you might have to stop a deaf person, and just imagine how much more comfortable that person would feel knowing that you are able to communicate with them.
According to a database maintained by The Washington Post, in 2018, at least 139 people with mental illness have been shot and killed by cops. based on the research I conducted, a large number of people with disabilities that are killed by cops have some form of mental illness. “Police have become the default responders to mental health calls,” write the authors, historian David Perry and disability expert Lawrence Carter-Long, who analyzed incidents from 2013 to 2015. They propose that “people with psychiatric disabilities” are presumed to be “dangerous to themselves and others” in police interactions. So, the question now becomes what do we do with this information, how do we use this information to better our community…..knowledge is power the more knowledge we have the more powerful we are.
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