Day in Washington- The Disability Policy Podcast explores and discusses various aspects of disability policy. Each episode will cover a specific issue within disability, and/or a disability-related news article. These 5-10 minute podcasts offer an easy to understand introduction to disability policy and resources for those interested in further study. You can find the text of each podcast in the comments. If you have difficulty downloading the podcast, please right-click and save it to your computer for playback.
On February 12th a story was running across the AP wires about how Charlette Marshall-Jones, of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, tipped Brian Sterner out of his wheelchair and searched him on the floor. What happened was a terrible event.
Perhaps not so publicized yet just as heinous, if not more so is what happened to Bill Trask, a developmentally disabled man who, after his time in the local jail has been left so traumatized that he is no longer independent at all.
The same week, Jason Swift, a man with a mental health condition who was in crisis, was shot dead by law enforcement officers who responded with force rather than make attempts to de-escalate the situation and reassure the terrified man. His mother had called 911 for assistance in getting her son taken to a nearby psychiatric facility.
The lack of knowledge of disability and the callous disregard for people with disabilities is more than just a single event of “wheelchair dumping” and as a community we should be more than just outraged because of a single incident. We should be advocating for a broad solution to deal with what is a pervasive, and (in the case of Jason Swift and many other individuals with mental illness) potentially life-threatening problem.
– Introduction, Date of Podcast
– The Case of Bill Sterner and the “Wheelchair Dumping”
– The Case of Bill Trask and the Disintegration of a Developmentally Disabled Man in Jail
– The Case of Jason Swift and Law Enforcement’s Inappropriate (yet common) Response to Individuals with Mental Illness
– Seeking the “Bigger Picture”
– Closing and Contact information
Bill Trask Story – “Investigators: Tapes Reveal Treatment of Jailed Disabled Man” From Seattle King 5 (NBC).
Jason Swift Story – “They Didn’t Need to Kill Him” From the Providence Journal.
Bill Sterner Story – “Police Suspended for Wheelchair Dumping” From Associated Press on Google News
Criminal Justice/Mental Health – Consensus Project
The Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project, is a national effort to help local, state, and federal policymakers and criminal justice and mental health professionals improve the response to people with mental illnesses who come into contact with the criminal justice system.
Memphis Plan – In the late 1980s, the Memphis Police Department created its Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) concept. It involved a 40 hour training program for selected officers. The program was presented by a blend of professionals involved with the mentally ill community and police experts in verbalization, confrontational diffusing techniques, and subject control and restraint techniques. It has not eliminated all adverse consequences in the Memphis police encounters with emotionally disturbed persons, but the agency has significantly decreased this outcome and the Memphis Plan has been the model upon which many other law enforcement officers have based their own “mental illness” response and intervention programs.