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Sunday, February 26, 2023

Nevada License Designation

In The Politics of Autism, I write:

[M]any police departments have trained officers and other first responders how to spot signs of autism and respond accordingly.[i] Some organizations have also published identification cards that ASD adults can carry in order to defuse potential conflicts. Virginia provides for an autism designation on driver licenses and other state-issued identification cards. Once again, however, the dilemma of difference comes into play. One autistic Virginian worries: “Great, so if I get into an accident, who’s the cop going to believe, the guy with the autistic label or the guy without it?” Clinical psychologist Michael Oberschneider is concerned about the understanding level of first responders: “I think many people still think of Rain Man or, more recently, the Sandy Hook Shooter, when they think of autism even though very few people on the autistic spectrum are savants or are homicidal and dangerous.”[ii]

Michael Bell at KVVU-TV:
A bill being considered in the Nevada Legislature would require - under certain circumstances - the DMV to place a designation on a driver’s license for certain persons with autism.

AB161, acknowledges that current regulations with the DMV have symbols or other indicators of medical conditions on driver’s licenses. If passed, it would put such a designation if that person had autism.

The application for a license would include a statement from a licensed physician or an advanced practice registered nurse that the person does indeed have autism.

When cops encounter autistic people they may not respond in the same way as NT people, and things can get out of hand.  A letter of support for the bill makes this point:

My name is Troyce Krumme and I am the Vice Chairman of the Las Vegas Police Managers and Supervisors Association (PMSA). I am writing to express support for Assembly Bill 161.
If approved, this bill will help reduce the likelihood of harmful encounters between individuals with a communications impairment and law enforcement, primarily during traffic encounters. By creating a system where individuals with communication impairments can voluntarily advise the DMV of a communication impairment and the DMV can subsequently denote such on a driver’s license and vehicle registration, the likelihood of miscommunication during a police encounter is likely to reduce.
In policing, when officers have contact with citizens, we are always looking for indicators. Those indicators can go a long way in hinting to the officer how the contact will progress. Is the person going to be compliant? Is the person not going to be compliant? Why is the person not going to be compliant? Is the person showing signs of aggression? Why is the person being aggressive? Is the person showing signs that they might run? Is the person showing signs they might try and hurt me? These are all examples of things an officer working need to consider, to keep themselves and the people they have contact with safe. When trying to decipher these indicators, knowledge is power.
This bill offers an opportunity for individuals diagnosed with certain impairments that may impact their behavior patterns and could be misconstrued by an officer as aggression. Having this information potentially available for officers before or as an interaction is progressing, could give officers pause and a reason to explain the person’s behavior when the officer is deciding if force will be necessary for their protection. In a nutshell, I believe this bill could go a long way in avoiding potentially tragic outcomes from certain police encounters. I urge the members of the committee to pass this bill and put that information into the hands of Nevada’s police professionals.
I would like to add something I believe should be seriously considered. Police officers have access to other databases that show information such as local criminal history, various permits, and offender registrations. In Clark County one such database is SCOPE. The sponsors of this bill and this committee should consider adding these types of databases to this piece of legislation to increase the chances of this information getting into the hands of law enforcement.