Community Policing and Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities

Pardon this rather prosaic post on an important subject.

Increasing numbers of police officers and others in criminal justice have gotten the memo that the field must do a better job addressing individuals in mental health crisis. Men and women living with intellectual and developmental disabilities sometimes experience behavioral behavioral crises that bring them into contact with law enforcement. That’s a real problem, and there is a dearth of good training resources for the law enforcement community.

Many people in policing and criminal justice would benefit by watching this excellent training video. (Trigger warning–video includes a short passage of country music.)

It is a training session for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation conducted by the state Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Bruce Davis, PhD, Director of Behavioral and Psychological Services and Steven Sutherland, Assistant Director of Incident Management, just did a terrific job. They cover a variety of issues:
–How to recognize that an individual may have an intellectual or developmental disability
–How to interact with individuals with I/DD
–Strategies to slow situations down, deescalate conflict, and use time and distance effectively.
–Specific health risks individuals may face under physical restraint, and more.
–Protecting the safety of officers and others during a behavioral crisis.

Dr. Davis and Mr. Sutherland do a real service in providing basic information most officers do not otherwise know.

Additional printed materials are available here. I hope law enforcement officials at all levels of government give these materials serious attention.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is the Helen Ross Professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.