Discriminatory Policing: Harm Reduction Means Hands Off

Lauren Young, J.D., Thomas Hicks, and Luciene Parsley, J.D.

This workshop will explore why people in mental health crisis or presumed to have disabilities are subjected to excessive and discriminatory mistreatment by police. The documented illegal patterns and practices of the Baltimore City Police Department and resulting federal consent decree will serve as the focus for illuminating the injustices and rights violations needing reform. Alternatives to police intervention, required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and needed in our community, will be discussed. The response of the Baltimore City Police Department will be addressed, including its actions to increase interventions through police diversion activities. Workshop presenters share their vision where reform results in less police intervention and more reliance on peer supports and community systems of support. The role of various community members in seeking reforms are also examined.

Learning Goals:
Participants will learn to identify discriminatory policing, and actions for decriminalizing disability. Learning Objectives: Workshop participants will:

  • Be able to identify reasons that people with disabilities have been subject to excessive policing.
  • Be able to analyze alternative responses to police interventions for individuals in crisis.
  • Learn how one community is struggling with changing discriminatory police practices.