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Decatur Group Teaches Best Practices on Engaging People with Developmental Disabilities

All About Developmental Disabilities, a Decatur-based non-profit focused on the needs of and advocacy for children, adults and families living with developmental disabilities, will be training DeKalb police officers and other first responders on best practices in dealing and identifying them.

The training, set for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4 at Tucker Police/Fire Headquarters, aims to educate law enforcement personnel on the different scenarios that may arise.

The Crisis Intervention Training seminar offers best practices when encountering individuals with disabilities in the criminal justice system and covers:

  • Recognizing different developmental disabilities
  • Communication techniques to de-escalate the encounter
  • Understanding that those with developmental disabilities are five to ten times more likely to be victims of crimes
  • Considering alternatives to incarceration in situations where a community resource would better serve the individual

The CIT training, which is being done in conjunction with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, comes as those with developmental disabilities are roughly 5 to 10 times more likely to be victims of crime.

Developmental disabilities are defined as severe chronic disabilities that limit three or more critical functional abilities. Examples include Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, autism disorders, fetal alcohol disorders and intellectual disabilities.

Developmental disability traits can be problematic in police situations and include:

  • Problems understanding Miranda warnings, which are written at a seventh grade level
  • Answering leading questions with the implied answers regardless of fact
  • Reacting badly to touch, loud noises or bright lights
  • Refusal to make eye contact or answer questions
  • Difficulty phrasing responses, or even difficulty speaking

AADD staff, who already have trained more than 2,000 law enforcement officials, judges and attorneys on developmental disabilities, in 86 counties statewide, spoke with Decatur-Avondale Estates Patch about the program and the organization's legislative goals.

Please click on the video to watch our video.

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