Article in NBC News written July 3rd, 2020, regarding disabled persons’ rights during police encounters interviewed Marc Dubin, Esq.
“I’m horrified by the amount of sheer luck needed to stay alive”: Black and disabled Americans call for awareness of their unique risks in police interactions.
“Under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, a disabled person has the right to effective communication and reasonable modifications of police policy during encounters with law enforcement when necessary.
In practical terms, that might mean police interview a deaf victim of domestic violence through a sign language interpreter rather than use a family member, a common mistake, or use simplified language when giving a Miranda warning to someone with an intellectual disability and then checking for understanding. Police must also be trained to de-escalate interactions with people who are mentally ill.
In practice, effective communication and modifications aren’t always provided, said Marc Dubin, a former lawyer for the Justice Department who is CEO of ADA Expertise Consulting, which helps businesses and government agencies ensure that they comply with the ADA.
Many police departments don’t apply for funding for ADA training because they incorrectly believe they never come into contact with disabled people, Dubin has found. That may be because law enforcement doesn’t always recognize disability in the people they interact with, such as those with “hidden disabilities,” like developmental disabilities or mental illness, or simply because police departments aren’t required to keep track of their interactions with disabled people.
But that reasoning, Dubin said, is insufficient at best and dangerous at worst. “Part of professional law enforcement means you train before the incident,” Dubin said. “Not at the incident.”
Activists say that training can save lives.