Recently, a police officer in Buckeye, Arizona, abused an autistic teen who was peacefully stimming in a public park. Now the department wants to create a registry for people with autism and other disabilities. They could wear wristbands so that police could more easily identify them. Dave Biscobing at KNXV-TV:
“I think it’s disgusting that you have to label someone with a disability with a special mark so they don’t have to live in fear from being hurt by police,” said Danielle Leibel, who told ABC15 her son Connor was traumatized during the incident.
“If my son were on a registry, how would that have changed this situation at all?” she asked. “How would that have kept him safe?"
Buckeye will give people on the registry a color-coded wristband according to their condition.
ABC15 obtained a copy of the registry application and the color codes.
“It sounds like an idea with good intentions but I’m curious to see how successful it is,” said Dr. Aaron Blocher-Rubin, CEO of Arizona Autism United.
According to information provided by Buckeye, the registry’s purpose is “to compile and maintain a list of individuals who have ‘Special Needs’ due to mental or neurological disabilities and who may reside or frequently visit the City of Buckeye.”
“It publicly labels someone which certainly has some drawbacks,” he said.
Most importantly, Blocher-Rubin hopes the registry and wristbands don’t replace training and awareness.
“You would hate to see that it becomes an expectation,” he said. “Hopefully, this is just some extra thing to provide some help and not over time becomes an expectation to where police say, ‘You didn’t sign up, so how did you expect us to know.’”
“People with disabilities shouldn’t be required to broadcast their diagnosis to the world just because police officers have insufficient training,” said ACLU Arizona policy director Will Gaona. “I think a better solution would be to have special wristbands for officers who engage in excessive use of force so the public knows who they are dealing with.”