Washington, D.C. — A bill that aims to address the rate of violence involving law enforcement and people with disabilities has been introduced by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.
A report from the Ruderman Family Foundation found that 33-50% of all use-of-force instances involve people with mental health disabilities, despite statistics showing that only 19% of the population has a mental health disability.
The Data on Interactions and Accountability for Law Enforcement with Individuals with Disabilities (DIALED) Act would develop a data collection system to get an accurate representation of how people with disabilities are affected by interactions with law enforcement, including use-of-force and fatal interactions.
“The Pennsylvania families of Walter Wallace, Jr., Ricardo Muñoz, and Osaze Osagie experienced heartbreaking loss—we must do everything in our power to prevent future tragedies from taking place,” said Sen. Casey, referencing three black Pennsylvanians that were shot and killed during mental health related episodes.
Casey continued, “this legislation takes active steps to ensure we have up-to-date, accurate information on police interactions with people with disabilities so that we can find solutions and prevent unnecessary violence.”
Current data collection methods fail to collect information on disability status, despite evidence people with disabilities are more likely to be victims of crime, leading to increased interactions with law enforcement.
The DIALED Act amends the Death in Custody Reporting Act and the FBI Use of Force Data Collection Program to ensure that disability status is collected and reported publicly. The legislation would also create a national advisory council on disability status and law enforcement interaction data collection, tasked with developing collection and reporting methodologies and providing recommendations to the Attorney General on best practices.
The DIALED Act is the third bill in Senator Casey’s Law Enforcement Education and Accountability for People with Disabilities (LEAD) Initiative. It also includes the Safe Interactions Act and the Human-services Emergency and Logistic Program (HELP) Act.
The Safe Interactions Act would provide grants to enable non-profit disability organizations to develop training programs that support safe interactions between law enforcement officers and people with disabilities.
The HELP Act looks to enhance state and regional 2-1-1 and 9-8-8 call systems, diverting some non-criminal emergency calls away from 9-1-1 and toward human services and mental health support agencies.