Police Response to Developmental Disability
Salerno, Alisha Carmela
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Individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) are at considerable risk for encounters with the criminal justice system. This study examined the experiences and perceptions of people with DD, and caregivers of people with DD, in relation to their interactions with the police. Ninety-one participants (n=25 people with DD & n=66 caregivers of persons with DD) completed a survey that probed their experiences with police. Findings paint a detailed picture of police encounters amongst individuals with DD. Three-quarters of the sample reported at least one police interaction in their lifetime. Individuals with police involvement were more likely to be older, not living with their parents, have mental health issues, and were more likely to have a mild (compared to a severe) impairment. Participants with DD described different types of encounters compared to the caregivers, and perceived these interactions much differently. Findings suggest that those with a less apparent DD may be at greater risk of an adverse encounter with the police.