This past Friday, Options For Justice had the honor of conducting our bi-annual training for the St. Louis County Police Academy Cadets. During this training, Program Director, Jen Day, uses techniques, such as role-playing, to teach our future officers how to interact with a person with a developmental/intellectual disability. As we know, people with an ID/DD are at a higher risk of becoming involved in the criminal justice system, whether it be as an offender, a victim, or even a witness. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 30% of the United States prison population reports having a cognitive disability.
On another note, people with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be a victim of violent crime as those without (Office for Victims of Crime). Police officers are trained to react quickly in a time-crucial scenario. This training teaches officers to stop and take a minute to evaluate the situation from another lens. The person who may be reaching into their pocket for identification, after being told to stay still, may be non-verbal and not understand the commands. There are different techniques and forms of communication that may be beneficial to utilize in one of these scenarios. In the pictures below, you can see the cadets role-playing with Ms. Day, acting as though they are questioning a person with an ID/DD.
They may use advanced language that this person may not understand, or they may be only asking yes or no questions, when they can get a lot more information asking open-ended questions. This is a time to note these common mistakes and collaborate on ways to make this process accommodating to all civilians. Options For Justice thanks the St. Louis County Police Academy for their hospitality and time. Options For Justice provides training to all professionals who may provide services to people with a developmental/intellectual disability. If you are interested in a training, please call Program Director, Jen Day, at 314.721.6161 ext. 11, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.