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Disability and Police Accountability

When you are Black, interacting with the police is a risky proposition. This risk elevates if you are disabled. According to the Center for American Progress ("CAP"), 50 percent of the people in the U.S. who are killed by police are disabled, and half of those are Black. This is a problem of perception, a problem of policing, and a problem of policy. Most critically it is a problem of data.




The numbers I provide here are very basic. Honestly, my modest research found very little in the way of numbers and disaggregated data. In order for this country to progress and move forward, we need to make sure people with disabilities are counted. This means that we need comprehensive data. CAP calls for the United States to "improve the mechanisms used for data collection on police encounters to provide an accurate, complete picture of these long-standing dynamics and misuses of force." I agree. The government needs to strengthen its data collection in many aspects, but it specifically needs to account for what happens when those with disabilities have encounters with law enforcement.


On November 16, 2022, Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. [D-PA] introduced S.5107 - Data on Interactions and Accountability for Law Enforcement with Individuals with Disabilities Act to the Senate. This Bill intends to "strengthen the collection of data regarding interactions between law enforcement officers and individuals with disabilities." This Act would provide for an advisory council that could develop data collection and reporting methodology on the interactions between law enforcement officers and individuals with disabilities. Once this information is collected, the council would then provide recommendations to the Attorney General on best practices for the collection of data.


This legislation, if it passes, would be a very small step towards justice. This legislation provides a good amount of ownership to people with disabilities because at least half the membership of the advisory council would be composed of people with disabilities.


If you have not done so already, contact your Senator today and let them know that you support S.5107.


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