HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) – As the prevention of police violence echoes across the U.S., Senator Bob Casey is looking to improve interactions between law enforcement and people with disabilities.
“Too often we hear tragic news throughout this year and so many other years where people with mental health and other types of disabilities are either seriously injured or even killed during interactions with law enforcement officials,” said Casey.
According to Casey, nationally, 25-50% of shootings by police involve a person who’s suffering from a mental health crisis. He’s looking to change that, with his new bipartisan police reform initiative called LEAD, or “Law Enforcement Education and Accountability for People with Disabilities.”
Made up of two bills, the first is the Human-services Emergency Logistics Program or HELP Act. Casey says HELP will divert non-criminal emergency calls away from 9-1-1, and towards mental health services.
“This bill will strengthen and enhance two emergency call systems. The 2-1-1 system for human service needs. And the 9-8-8 national suicide prevention lifeline for mental health needs,” said Casey.
The second, is the Safe Interactions Act, which will provide law enforcement with knowledge and training on how to interact with those with mental disabilities.
“These trainings will be organized by local disability groups in partnership with state and local law enforcement and jointly conducted by people with disabilities and officers. These bills are designed to get people the services and support they need and to reduce demands on law enforcement,” said Casey.
According to Casey, he hasn’t seen any any substantial opposition.
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