Legal and Policy Topics
This module will review federal and state laws, as well as agency policies and procedures, that guide the work of law enforcement. Laws and policies specific to disability rights is the focus here, with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) serving as the foundation for discussion. The goals for this module include:
Helping participants understand the rights of people with disabilities, including expectations of law enforcement to know and uphold disability rights;
Emphasizing how officers’ use of de-escalation techniques is required by law;
Reviewing civil involuntary commitment laws and practices, to include discussion regarding the overlap of federal, state, and local rules guiding the removal of individuals from the community; and
Providing guidance on the use of less restrictive alternatives before placing an individual in custody for evaluation/commitment.
It is recommended that this module be co-taught by a law enforcement instructor with experience in crisis response and a local attorney with knowledge and understanding of federal, state, and local disability rights laws. The attorney instructor should be a seasoned trainer of law enforcement who can engage officers in understanding the rights and responsibilities of officers and the individuals they serve under these laws. You may consider including an attorney from your jurisdiction’s prosecuting agency to assist with training, particularly an assistant prosecutor or assistant district attorney who handles civil commitment or mental health diversion cases.
You may also consider including attorneys from your state’s protection and advocacy agency, as they practice under disability rights laws regularly and should be able to communicate relevant concepts. Protection and advocacy agencies work at the state level to protect individuals with disabilities by empowering them and advocating on their behalf. To find the protection and advocacy agency in your state, see https://www.ndrn.org/about/ndrn-member-agencies/.
Time 90 minutes
Upon completing this module, participants should be able to:
Discuss the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to include knowledge about the range of individuals identified for protection under this landmark legislation;
Describe federal and state laws that affect their interactions with persons with disabilities and those experiencing a crisis, including those perceived to have a disability;
Summarize legal obligations when working with persons with disabilities and those experiencing a crisis; and
Explain the standards for their state’s civil commitment, the responsibilities of law enforcement agencies in the commitment determination process (based upon state and local laws), and when civil commitment may be an appropriate response.