Many people in New York live with developmental disabilities. Unfortunately, many people in our state do not have a good understanding of these disabilities, leaving some either afraid or unsure of how to interact with those who have a developmental disability. Although this in itself is a problem that should be addressed, it can be especially problematic when people who are charged with protecting our communities don't know what to do. Fortunately, this may be changing soon in New York.
According to a recent article in the Times Union, police officers across the state will begin receiving training on how to interact with and assist individuals who have developmental disabilities. Thanks in part to the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council's executive director, the state was awarded a three-year grant worth $650,000 to work with.
Although training is optional for police officers, they have been highly encouraged to attend by Governor Cuomo. The trainings, conducted by Niagara University, will provide officers an overarching knowledge of how to interact with and aide individuals with varying types of disabilities.
As police officers are encouraged to take the time to learn more about the disabilities that affect so many people in New York, hopefully it will create safer environments for the disabled community in our state. Unfortunately, New York police are not currently required to abide by any sort of code of behavior when working with people who have a mental illness or a developmental disability. Hopefully, however, the new training sessions will be a step in the right direction.
Sources: Times Union, "N.Y. rolls out police training for handling disabled," April 21, 2013