Justice and policing

A new initiative to bridge the gap between law enforcement and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), “Just Policing: Disability Inclusion Training,” has been announced by The Arc and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office).

The training, which will provide disability awareness training to police officers across the country, comes in the wake of the recent police killing of Ryan Gainer, a Black autistic teenager in California who reportedly had run toward a police officer with a garden tool and was fatally shot.

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Just Policing will provide officers with comprehensive knowledge and tools to understand and better serve people with I/DD. The training will focus on enhancing bias, effective communication, recognizing I/DD, de-escalation techniques, and legal obligations to ensure effective and respectful interactions. far from the first such deadly encounter.

It adds to ongoing efforts already being made The Arc to improve relationships and outcomes between the police and people with I/DD, mostly notably its Pathways to Justice program. That community-based program works with law enforcement, victim service providers, the legal system and communities to establish disability response teams, and also helps to train those teams.

“We are creating the Just Policing training specifically for law enforcement only,” says Leigh Anne McKingsley, director of The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability, who notes that Pathways is a more comprehensive program.

And because the  new training can be placed in the COPS Office online training portal, McKingsley adds, it gives ARC “a chance to reach more officers through a different avenue.”

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