New FL Law Aims to Help Disabled People’s Interaction with Law Enforcement

New FL Law Aims to Help Disabled People's Interaction with Law Enforcement

Category: Disability Law

A new registry that will be accessible to law enforcement officers on the ground aims to help identify people with mental, psychological and emotional disabilities so that they can better interact with them. The database is voluntary and the person’s name can be submitted by the person or their family.

The Protect Our Loved Ones Act went into effect at the start of the year. It’s goal is to bridge the information gap which may exist between the law enforcement officer and their contact with mentally disabled people. These disabilities include dementia, Alzheimer’s and autism.

It has long been an issue for law enforcement identifying a cognitively disabled person and getting them the help they need. Lieutenant Paul Bloom of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said the following: “For us to know just coming across somebody, we may not have all of the information that we need, and this registry helps us know exactly and specifically what this person’s needs are.”

He went on to say “If there is something that helps us narrow down our search or provide information on this person that may help us. For instance, some autistic children are drawn to water. There may be some notes there on the registry that says this child is lost, they may be drawn to water, so we want to go look there first.”

Individuals can request that their information be removed from the database at any time. It is a totally voluntary system. The Department of Elder Affairs has teamed up with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to train officers.

One study from the UK showed that they average around 40,000 missing persons among the elderly every single year. The United States has four times the population as the UK and four times the missing persons calls. In 2014 there were a reported 5 million adults living with dementia in the USA.

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