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May 26, 2021Advocacy Matters

Advancing Policing Reforms

Disability Matters with Joyce Bender

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

#AdvocacyMatters Segment

Advancing Policing Reforms

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One year ago today, George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer.  That officer was recently convicted of murder.  Rallies and events marking Mr. Floyd’s death are happening across the country today.

Police involved shootings for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) communities and people with disabilities have set in motion police reform efforts at the federal, state, and local levels.

The disability community stands at the intersection of disability and race and we have embraced a reform agenda to end racism that includes police reform.

According to a Washington Post database of police shootings, at least 25% of shootings involve a person with a mental health disability.  A 2015 Ruderman Foundation report estimated that between one-third and half of shootings involved the police and a person with a disability.

Policymakers have been holding hearings and introducing proposals to reduce the high rate of police-involved shootings for BIPOC communities and people with disabilities.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey just introduced two bipartisan bills to decrease the high rate of violence involving people with disabilities and law enforcement.

S. 1566, The Safe Interactions Act (SIA) would reduce and change the interactions people with disabilities have with law enforcement. The legislation enhances the collaboration between nonprofit disability organizations and law enforcement, add training for law enforcement that includes self-advocates, require that training be a minimum of 8 hours each year

S. 1570, The Human Services Emergency Logistics Program (HELP) Act diverts crisis calls from 911. The HELP Act facilitates enhanced accessibility and coordination of 2-1-1 (human services and mental health providers) and 9-8-8 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) call systems with the intent to provide information and referral for people in mental health emergencies, homeless needs, and other social and human service’s needs.

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We must continue to educate ourselves about justice in policing and support legislation that reforms law enforcement.

For links to Senator Casey’s legislation visit www.disabilityrightspa.org and click on our #AdvocacyMatters segment for today.

 

2015 Ruderman Foundation Study

S. 1566, The Safe Interactions Act

S. 1570, The HELP Act