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Justice Department Developing Disability Training For Police

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Justice Department Developing Disability Training For Police

Plans are in the works at the U.S. Department of Justice to roll out law enforcement training focused on people with disabilities.

The Justice Department’s Community Relations Service — a division that steps in to help communities address tension stemming from civil rights issues — is currently working on the effort, Attorney General Eric Holder said.

The move follows the introduction of a similar training program in March designed to address law enforcement relations with the transgender community.

“Earlier this year, you launched a groundbreaking transgender law enforcement cultural professionalism training. And I know a similar training initiative, focused on the needs of individuals with cognitive disabilities, is being developed as we speak,” Holder said at a gathering of the Community Relations Service last week.

Justice Department officials did not provide details about the plans. Holder’s comments, however, come over a year after disability advocates called on the federal agency to address the need for better police training.

Advocates from the National Down Syndrome Society, the National Down Syndrome Congress and a handful of other groups made the request during a meeting with officials from the Community Relations Service in March 2013 following the death of Robert Ethan Saylor. The 26-year-old with Down syndrome died earlier that year after being restrained by three off-duty sheriff’s deputies when he refused to leave a Frederick, Md. movie theater.

At the time, officials with the Justice Department did not make any promises, but said they were monitoring the situation surrounding Saylor’s death and indicated that they might provide training or other assistance.