In an article published in PoliceOne on April 1, David Moser discusses Ohio’s House Bill 115, implemented to aid interactions between police officers and drivers with communication disabilities.
The bill, which became effective in August 2018, enables any driver with a communication disability to submit a verification form that identifies them as having a communication disability. Law enforcement officers will then be able to see this information through the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) when they make a traffic stop, making them aware that they might need to take a different approach in their communication.
“Communication disabilities, ranging from hearing impairment to PTSD to autism, are increasingly becoming more widely understood in American culture and particularly in the law enforcement community. With more available and accessible support services for these individuals, strengthening police-driver interactions was a clear and necessary next step,” says Moser.
The new program is aimed at reducing the number of unnecessary arrests that could have been avoided if officers had been aware of the driver’s disability. In some cases, driver’s displayed unusual physical cues that led officers to believe they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, when in actuality the driver had a communication disability.