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.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect,, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

One thought on “Community Policing and Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities”

  1. Hey! Thanks for posting this!!! It looks *excellent.* I can't watch all of it right now but I would love to know stuff like this, especially if there is a part on autism. (If anyone finds that please post the time.) I am not an LEO yet it would be great to have tips on how to help people be safe and be treated well at the same time. Wonderful.

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