The Utah Parent Center (UPC) joins in grief with the family of Linden Cameron, the 13 year old boy living with autism who was severely injured in an officer-involved shooting over this past weekend. The Utah Parent Center understands all too intimately, the reality that individuals with disabilities are significantly more likely to have negative interactions with law enforcement than people living without disabilities. Many of our staff live with the fear of this reality in our day to day lives as parents of children with disabilities, especially when there is a cognitive, emotional or behavioral component that is impacted by mental health needs.
The UPC calls on local leaders to ensure that law enforcement officers have the proper training to understand the variety of disabilities among our communities and how a person’s disability may play a role in how they interact with law enforcement. Furthermore, we call on local officials to ensure that all of Utah’s law enforcement officers have access to Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) and provide de-escalation training to all police officers.
The UPC will continue to share our stories, our experiences, and our expertise with local leaders and decision makers to push for better resources, better training and equity for our loved ones with disabilities and their families.
Some of the current efforts the UPC is undertaking include: (1) Expanding our Management Board to include representation from law enforcement; (2) Bringing awareness and information to families about any proactive strategies to minimize negative interactions between children, youth and adults with disabilities and law enforcement officials; (3) Continuing to encourage and advocate for communication between the disability community, government leaders, and law enforcement.