Expecting the Unreasonable

Persons with disabilities can pose complex challenges to law enforcement officers charged with keeping the peace. Police officers are often the first responders to persons with mental disabilities in crisis.[1] These problematic, high-stakes encounters have drastically increased in frequency as a result of the gradual shift from institutional to community-based care.[2] The difficulties associated with this integration process have been exacerbated by insufficient funding for outpatient support services.[3] To make matters worse, many mental or developmental disabilities when untreated can produce behaviors that aggravate officers or members of the public. Some scholars have even argued that our laws have effectively criminalized the symptoms of disabilities.[4] As a result, persons with disabilities are in a vulnerable position: they need a robust set of protections in place to provide some measure of security and predictability in their interactions with law enforcement. This article analyzes how the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”)[5] can help bring stability and justice to the interactions between law enforcement officers and persons with disabilities.

Part I describes how most courts have correctly reached the conclusion that law enforcement activities are covered by the ADA. Although there has been limited resistance to this doctrinal development, the plain language of the statute and the legislative history both support the prevailing jurisprudence.[6] As the federal courts have addressed an increasing number of ADA cases brought by arrestees with disabilities, judges have generally succeeded in effectuating the remedial purpose of the ADA. However, Part II identifies one place where the judiciary has gotten it wrong. Under Title II of the ADA, persons with disabilities are entitled to reasonable modifications[7] to a public entity’s services, programs, and activities to avoid discrimination. The Eleventh Circuit has held that to state a claim for failure to provide reasonable modifications, a plaintiff must have made a specific request for accommodation.[8] Part II discusses how a “specific request” requirement is itself discriminatory because it fails to protect persons who cannot articulate their need for reasonable accommodations.

This article argues that the ADA places an affirmative duty on law enforcement agencies to provide reasonable modifications in their policies and procedures. To satisfy this anti-discrimination command of Title II of the ADA, law enforcement officers should receive training in the provision of reasonable accommodations. Part III explores some of the issues that surround police interactions with persons with disabilities and discusses how those issues have precipitated innovative training programs. Many disability rights groups have already pushed for better police training, and many have succeeded at the local and even state level.[9] Using those successful efforts as a model, Part IV proposes a national mandate solidifying the affirmative duty to provide reasonable accommodations in law enforcement activities. This article submits two model regulations for the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to consider issuing pursuant to its ADA Title II authority. The first clarifies that persons with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations even absent a specific request.[10] The second attempts to consolidate and nationalize the scattered local programs that provide training to law enforcement officers for their inevitable interactions with persons with disabilities.[11] Finally, Part IV suggests that the DOJ issue tailored guidance for law enforcement agencies, setting out examples and best practices for the provision of reasonable accommodations to persons with mental and developmental disabilities.

I. Why the ADA Covers Law Enforcement Activities

When a unanimous Supreme Court decided Pennsylvania Department of Corrections v. Yeskey,[12] it opened the floodgates for prison inmates with disabilities seeking to vindicate their rights in federal court under the ADA. Given the penal system’s well-documented inadequacies in fairly and equitably treating persons with disabilities,[13] Yeskey was a watershed decision for disability rights advocates. In the wake of Yeskey, plaintiffs were finally able to remedy ADA violations against incarcerated persons with disabilities.[14] However, Yeskey left unanswered whether ADA protections extend to arrestees and pre-trial detainees.

The ADA prohibits a “public entity” from discriminating against a qualified individual with a disability on account of that disability.[15] To state a claim under Title II, a plaintiff must allege that (1) he is a qualified individual with a disability, (2) who was excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of a public entity’s services, programs, or activities, and (3) such exclusion, denial of benefits, or discrimination was by reason of a disability.[16] Courts have agreed that a law enforcement agency constitutes a “public entity.”[17] The only point of contention about the ADA’s coverage of arrestees is whether an arrest—or any other law enforcement activity—constitutes a “benefit” of a public entity’s services, programs or activities. Without guidance from the Supreme Court, the lower courts have generally answered this question in the affirmative, finding that qualified arrestees and pre-trial detainees with disabilities are covered under Title II of the ADA.[18]

Shortly after Yeskey was decided, the Eighth Circuit set a strong precedent when it held that arrestees and pre-trial detainees are not overlooked by the ADA. In Gorman v. Bartch, a paraplegic man was arrested and transported in a vehicle not equipped for wheelchairs; he fell from a bench in the vehicle and suffered a serious injury that required surgery.[19] The court allowed the plaintiff’s Title II claim to proceed based on the plain language of the statute and a judicious application of the Supreme Court’s holding in Yeskey.[20]With a few exceptions,[21] the lower courts have to come to this sensible conclusion that arrestees are entitled to ADA protection, including reasonable accommodations.[22] However, the existing jurisprudence has not fully addressed all of the complicated and sensitive issues that arise in the interactions between persons with disabilities and law enforcement. In particular, courts have not grappled with the reality that many persons with disabilities are incapable of articulating their needs to police officers.

II. The Specific Request Requirement: ADA Jurisprudence Gone Awry

This article focuses on an issue that has given the courts trouble: whether persons with disabilities must make specific requests for modifications to state discrimination claims for failure to provide reasonable accommodations. A Title II claim for compensatory relief requires a showing of discrimination. A plaintiff can proceed on theories of (1) intentional discrimination, (2) disparate treatment, or (3) failure to make reasonable accommodations.[23] The first two types of discrimination claims—intentional misconduct and disparate treatment—are more easily identifiable. But some forms of discrimination can come in the form of normal treatment, when special treatment is necessary. The failure to provide reasonable accommodations embodies this kind of latent discrimination, and the justice system must be more vigilant to protect against it.

The ADA provides this extra security by placing an affirmative duty on law enforcement agencies and other public entities to provide reasonable accommodations. The ADA expressly provides that it is discriminatory when an entity fails to “take such steps as may be necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services.”[24] As the Fifth Circuit stated, a “plain reading of the ADA evidences that Congress intended to impose an affirmative duty on public entities to create policies or procedures to prevent discrimination based on disability.”[25] This positive duty is not an entirely new or extraordinary burden on law enforcement agencies: it is functionally similar to the policing requirements set forth by the Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona.[26] An unconditional duty to provide accommodations would present problems. It would interfere with an officer’s ability to protect public safety, and officers also might have difficulty identifying disabilities. However, the ADA addresses these concerns by (1) requiring only reasonable modifications, and (2) providing a defense for modifications that fundamentally alter the nature of an activity.[27]

Furthermore, courts have already developed public-safety and exigent-circumstances exceptions to the anti-discrimination command of the ADA. For example, the Fifth Circuit held that “Title II does not apply to an officer’s on-the-street responses to reported disturbances or other similar incidents, whether or not those calls involve subjects with mental disabilities, prior to the officer’s securing the scene and ensuring that there is no threat to human life.”[28] This narrow exception allows officers to function in their law enforcement capacity without the unreasonable burden of proactively accommodating persons with disabilities. The courts are well suited to develop and refine the contours of these exceptions in the time-honored common-law tradition.

Unfortunately, some courts have restricted the availability of discrimination claims based on the failure to provide reasonable accommodations. The Eleventh Circuit held in Rylee v. Chapman that “[i]n cases alleging a failure to make reasonable accommodations, the defendant’s duty to provide a reasonable accommodation is not triggered until the plaintiff makes a ‘specific demand for an accommodation.”[29] In Rylee, bad facts resulted in bad law and a dangerous precedent for persons with disabilities. The plaintiff, a man with a hearing impairment, filed suit alleging intentional discrimination under Title II of the ADA based on his treatment during an arrest, booking, interrogation, and appearance hearing.[30] He was arrested after his son and wife called 911 and reported that Rylee had physically assaulted and threatened to kill his wife.[31] In the course of that 911 call, Rylee’s wife had informed officers that Rylee did not know sign language but could read lips when spoken to slowly.[32] During Rylee’s arrest, he made no specific request for accommodations and the officers did not provide an interpreter or communicate in writing. While being booked, Rylee requested to communicate in writing, and the booking officer complied.[33] The court found that Rylee could not state an ADA Title II discrimination claim because he had not articulated any specific request for accommodation that the police officers had failed to provide during his arrest.[34]

The court in Rylee took this highly unfavorable set of facts and drove the doctrine of ADA Title II discrimination in the wrong direction. The court supported its reasoning by citing an Eleventh Circuit case, Gaston v. Bellingrath Gardens & Home, Inc.,[35] which it used to justify the invocation of a “specific demand” requirement. The court’s reliance on Gaston, an ADA Title I employment discrimination case, was misguided. Even if requiring a specific request was legitimate under the ADA in the employment context, the court should not have imported it into Title II’s coverage of law enforcement activities. Persons with disabilities seeking accommodations in the employment context generally have the time and resources to organize and articulate requests; in contrast, during arrests, interrogations, and other pressured law enforcement activities, persons with disabilities lack the time to collect their thoughts or seek outside assistance. The specific request requirement fails to protect fairly and adequately persons with disabilities during interactions with law enforcement.

The Rylee decision effectively dismembers the anti-discrimination power of Title II of the ADA. Persons with mental and developmental disabilities in particular could be left without a cause of action under this narrow reading of the statute.[36] The lower courts should revisit and reinterpret the definition of discrimination to resolve the Eleventh Circuit’s flawed framing of the doctrine.

III. The Challenges of Training Law Enforcement: State and Local Solutions

If courts confirm that law enforcement agencies have an affirmative duty to provide accommodations, the question becomes how agencies can feasibly train police officers to comply. This question has already been answered in part by proactive measures taken on the state and local level. Since the Supreme Court decided Olmstead v. L.C.,[37] more and more persons with disabilities are becoming active members of mainstream society. As a result of this deinstitutionalization process, persons with disabilities are interacting with law enforcement on a more consistent basis. [38] Persons with mental and developmental disabilities are particularly prone to interactions with law enforcement officers, in part because some symptoms can provoke police encounters.[39] The sheer number of police interactions is not the only challenge. The vast array of disabilities makes the project of training and sensitizing law enforcement officers to the particularized needs of every kind of disability virtually impossible. Moreover, some disabilities manifest themselves in behaviors that are difficult to detect, understand, and control. These obstacles have not stopped local and state movements from succeeding in training law enforcement officers.

Perhaps the most famous local law enforcement training program is Memphis, Tennessee’s Crisis Intervention Team (“CIT”). The program began before the enactment of the ADA in response to the tragic shooting of a mentally ill person by a police officer.[40] The Memphis CIT operates by specially training a small unit of police personnel who are dispatched to any calls that involve persons with mental illnesses.[41]Regular patrol officers receive basic training on how to handle these complicated interactions and benefit from their cooperative work with the CIT members. The Memphis CIT model has spread to other cities, often after an unfortunate interaction between law enforcement and a person with a disability.[42] For example, Chicago has adopted a similar CIT program that promotes training and awareness through cooperative ventures with groups like The Autism Program of Illinois.[43] The cooperation and support of disability rights groups minimizes the financial burden on law enforcement agencies and allows persons with disabilities to have a voice in the training programs. Local CIT programs have proven very successful; they provide model policies for other law enforcement agencies seeking to introduce training programs.[44]Moreover, some states have taken more concrete legislative steps to ensure appropriate training of law enforcement.[45] These measures are the result of targeted advocacy; their successes showcase the viability and importance of a national mandate. The spread of training programs should not depend on local tragedies that mobilize advocates.

The absence of a federal directive leaves persons with mental and developmental disabilities especially at risk. All disabilities present challenges, but mental and developmental disabilities “present a particular challenge in the context of police encounters, where misunderstood, socially atypical behavior may result in a dangerous situation for both the officer and the individual.”[46] The ADA should not deny protection to persons with disabilities who require more nuanced accommodations. The ADA was not intended to create a hierarchy of persons with disabilities or provide tiered protections based on the ease of accommodation. The success of state and local movements should signal to the courts and the DOJ that a national mandate is timely, feasible, and commanded by the ADA.

IV. Nationalizing the Solution: Proposed New and Amended Regulations for the Department of Justice

The U.S. Department of Justice serves as the congressionally-mandated enforcer of Title II of the ADA.[47]In this capacity, the DOJ has issued regulations “to effectuate subtitle A of title II of the [ADA], which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities.”[48] The ADA and the DOJ regulations both require a public entity to “make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures when the modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability, unless the public entity can demonstrate that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity.”[49] Thus, the plain language of the existing DOJ regulation places the burden on a public entity to make reasonable modifications unless the entity can raise a fundamental alteration defense. The dangerous, misguided, and judicially created “specific request” requirement is contrary to the DOJ’s existing regulations. The DOJ should clarify that there is an affirmative duty on law enforcement agencies to provide reasonable accommodations by amending the existing regulation.[50]

The DOJ should also consider issuing new, tailored regulations that provide more specific guidance to law enforcement agencies in the training of police officers.[51] The proposed model regulations for law enforcement agencies appended to this article contain a number of important elements: (1) a general duty to train, (2) with all deliberate speed, and (3) an undue burden defense. The general duty to train flows directly from the affirmative duty to provide reasonable accommodations. Officers must be able to recognize and understand a broad spectrum of disabilities before they can know when to make accommodations proactively. Training programs will empower the police with the knowledge necessary to avoid inadvertent discrimination. The proposed regulations also set forth that training shall proceed with all deliberate speed. This language, inherited from the Supreme Court’s school-desegregation jurisprudence, is not new to disability law.[52] The inclusion of a flexible but still exacting time mandate will give teeth to these new regulations while recognizing that some law enforcement agencies are better equipped than others to implement new training procedures.

The proposed regulations also contain an undue burden defense.[53] Comprehensive training of police officers will be a substantial financial and administrative burden to law enforcement agencies. Under the DOJ’s existing Title II regulations, the undue burden defense is limited to the accessibility section. If the DOJ attaches a similar defense to these targeted regulations for law enforcement activities, it will address the possibility of unwieldy costs. An unconditional affirmative duty on law enforcement to train officers in the provision of reasonable modifications for all disabilities would be unfeasible. However, comprehensive training of law enforcement officers is not necessary to establish an enforceable baseline standard of training that the judiciary can refine over time on a case by case basis. The purpose of these regulations is to motivate training regimes that eventually set a minimum standard that persons with disabilities can expect in their interactions with law enforcement.

Law enforcement agencies would also benefit from a set of DOJ provisions addressing mental and developmental disabilities. Persons with mental and developmental disabilities pose a unique set of challenges for law enforcement; without specific protections, this class will remain vulnerable to discrimination and reckless ignorance. These individuals can face substantial hurdles in overcoming discrimination: many do not know their rights and cannot communicate their needs. As a result, they are at the mercy of a system that does not proactively accommodate them.

The ADA commands particularized protections for the provision of reasonable accommodations in law enforcement activities. Persons with mental and developmental disabilities require more than simple modifications, translators, or physical assistance. The DOJ has set an example by issuing a detailed and constructive set of guidelines for law enforcement officers interacting with persons who have hearing impairments.[54] In that document, the DOJ provides not only a well-articulated set of requirements for law enforcement officers but also a useful set of “Practical Suggestions for Communicating Effectively.” In the practical suggestions section, the DOJ sets forth the everyday ways in which law enforcement officers can provide reasonable accommodations for persons with hearing impairments. Some of these may seem obvious, like “try to converse in a well-lit area” or “face the person and do not turn away while speaking.”[55] However, they serve two important purposes: (1) they help remedy institutional ignorance about persons with disabilities; and (2) they provide a standard of care for persons with disabilities to expect. The DOJ should provide similar guidance for accommodating persons with mental and developmental disabilities such that those persons can expect a baseline standard of care in their interactions with law enforcement.

If the DOJ can mobilize a task force to create this tailored guidance, law enforcement agencies can integrate the guidance into their training programs. Eventually, disability training will become a small subset of the multifaceted law enforcement training procedures. As disability training continues to develop and spread, it will infuse the law enforcement system with institutional knowledge about persons with disabilities. This knowledge will foster sensitivity to the needs of persons with disabilities and should help reduce the frequency of tragic encounters. Thus, although there will be significant startup costs to a national training mandate, there will be counterbalancing benefits including the vindication of the rights of this marginalized group.


The growing population of persons with disabilities living in community settings presents significant challenges to law enforcement. The inadequacy of outpatient services often results in persons with disabilities receiving improper or insufficient treatment. These systemic failures leave persons with mental disabilities susceptible to committing crimes or otherwise encountering law enforcement officers. Although the ADA covers arrestees, there is no particularized framework set out to protect persons with disabilities in these dangerous and high-stakes situations. The goal of this article is not to suggest that police forces are acting with discriminatory animus against persons with disabilities. Instead, this article is intended to motivate a discussion about the best way to effectuate the ADA’s protections in the context of law enforcement activities. Police officers must receive notice and training before we can expect them appropriately to modify policies and procedures for persons with disabilities. Until there is a more robust set of protections in place, persons with disabilities remain vulnerable. The DOJ should remedy this systemic weakness by issuing new and amended regulations that solidify the ADA’s protection of law enforcement activities and nationalize the police training movement.


APPENDIX 1: Proposed Model Regulations

Proposal 1: Amendment of Existing Regulation to Correct the Specific Request Requirement

28 C.F.R. § 35.130 General prohibitions against discrimination.[56]

(7) A public entity shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures when the modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability, unless the public entity can demonstrate that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity.  When reasonable modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination, a public entity shall make these modifications regardless of whether persons with disabilities specifically articulate a request for accommodation. 



Proposal 2: New Regulation Tailored for Law Enforcement Agencies

28 C.F.R. § 35.XXX – Additional Requirements for Law Enforcement Agencies

(a) A law enforcement agency shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures when the modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability. When reasonable modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination, a law enforcement agency shall make these modifications regardless of whether persons with disabilities specifically articulate a request for accommodation. A law enforcement agency shall take all reasonable steps to train officers in the provision of reasonable modifications for persons with disabilities.

(b) Law enforcement agencies should proceed with all deliberate speed in training officers in the provision of reasonable modifications to persons with disabilities. The reasonableness of a law enforcement agency’s training program depends on the following non-exhaustive list of considerations: (1) the population of a law enforcement agency’s jurisdiction; (2) the number of persons with disabilities in a law enforcement agency’s jurisdiction; (3) the financial and administrative burdens of training, including the availability of outside support in training;[57] (4) the number of officers in a law enforcement agency; (5) a law enforcement agency’s history of interactions with persons with disabilities; and (6) the length of time elapsed since the effective date of this section.

(c) This section does not require a law enforcement agency to take any action that it can demonstrate would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of a service, program, or activity, or in undue financial or administrative burdens. In those circumstances where personnel of the law enforcement agency believe that the proposed action would fundamentally alter the service, program, or activity, or would result in undue financial or administrative burdens, a law enforcement agency has the burden of proving that compliance with 35.XXX(a) or (b) of this section would result in such alteration or burdens.

(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit a state or local government or law enforcement agency from maintaining a training program that exceeds the minimum standards required by this section.



* J.D. Candidate, Northwestern University School of Law, May 2011. I would like to dedicate this article to the late Professor Barry McNamara, whose keen intellect and compassionate spirit I will remember throughout my career.

[1] See Heidi S. Vermette et al., Mental Health Training for Law Enforcement Professionals, 33 J. Am. Acad. Psychiatry & L. 42, 42 (2005).

[2] See, e.g., Gary Whitmer, From Hospitals to Jails: The Fate of California’s Deinstitutionalized Mentally Ill, 50 Am. J. Orthopsychiatry 65, 65–75 (1980) (finding through empirical research that deinstitutionalization was transplanting persons with mental disorders into the criminal justice system).

[3] See Betsy Vickers, U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Memphis, Tennessee, Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team 3 (2000).

[4] Seee.g., Jennifer L.S. Teller et al., Crisis Intervention Team Training for Police Officers Responding to Mental Disturbance Calls, 57 Psychiatric Serv. 232, 232 (2006).

[5] 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101–12213 (2000).

[6] See H.R. Rep. No. 485, pt. 3, at 50 (1990) (noting that persons with disabilities, such as epilepsy, are “frequently inappropriately arrested and jailed” and “deprived of medications while in jail”); see also 136 Cong. Rec. 11,461 (1990) (statement of Rep. Levine).

[7] This article uses “modifications” and “accommodations” interchangeably. Whether equating the two is a sound interpretation of the ADA is an issue for another article.

[8] Rylee v. Chapman, 316 F. App’x 901, 906 (11th Cir. 2009).

[9] Seee.g., Vickers, supra note 3, at 5 (describing Memphis’s revolutionary Crisis Intervention Team); Illinois Police Training Act, 50 Ill. Comp. Stat. 705/1-12 (2005).

[10] See Appendix 1.

[11] See Appendix 2.

[12] Pennsylvania Department of Corrections v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206, 213 (1998) (holding that ADA coverage under Title II extends to prison inmates). Justice Scalia, writing for the unanimous Court, reasoned that “[s]tate prisons fall squarely within the statutory definition of ‘public entity,’ which includes any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or local government.”  Id. at 210.

[13] Seee.g., Henry J. Steadman et al., The Mentally Ill in Jail: Planning for Essential Services (1989).

[14] Seee.g., United States v. Georgia, 546 U.S. 151 (2006) (finding that the confinement of an inmate with paraplegia to a cell so small he could not rotate his wheelchair and failure to provide him accessible bathroom facilities constituted a colorable claim under Title II of the ADA).

[15] 42 U.S.C. § 12131 (2006).

[16] See 42 U.S.C. § 12132; Robertson v. Las Animas County Sheriff’s Dep’t, 500 F.3d 1185, 1193 (10th Cir. 2007).

[17] Seee.g., Gorman v. Bartch, 152 F.3d 907, 916 (8th Cir. 1998); see also McCray v. City of Dothan, 169 F. Supp. 2d 1260, 1272–76 (M.D. Ala. 2001).

[18] Seee.g.Gorman, 152 F.3d at 916.

[19] Id. at 909–10.

[20] See id. at 913.

[21] See, e.g., Hainze v. Richards, 207 F.3d 795, 801 (5th Cir. 2000) (holding that the duties imposed by Title II do not extend to officers making instantaneous decisions in potentially dangerous situations); Rosenv. Montgomery Cnty., 121 F.3d 154, 156–57 (4th Cir. 1997) (upholding summary judgment against a deaf man who requested use of a Teletypewriter phone during a drunk-driving arrest because “calling a drunk driving arrest a ‘program or activity’ of the County . . . strikes us as a stretch of the statutory language and of the underlying intent”); Patrice v. Murphy, 43 F. Supp. 2d 1156, 1160 (W.D. Wash. 1999) (denying the existence of a cause of action under the ADA because “an arrest is not the type of service, program, or activity from which a disabled person could be excluded or denied the benefits”).

[22] Seee.g., Gohier v. Enright, 186 F.3d 1216, 1222 (10th Cir. 1999); Delano-Pyle v. Victoria County, Tex., 302 F.3d 567, 575–76 (5th Cir. 2002); Calloway v. Boro of Glassboro Dep’t of Police, 89 F. Supp. 2d 543, 555–56 (D. N.J. 2000); Jackson v. Inhabitants of Sanford, No. 94-12-P-H, 1994 WL 589617, at *6 (D. Me. Sept. 23, 1994).

[23] See Schwarz v. City of Treasure Island, 544 F.3d 1201, 1212 n.6 (11th Cir. 2008).

[24] 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(iii) (2006).

[25] Delano-Pyle, 302 F.3d at 575; see also Pena v. Bexar County, No. 08-CV-1016-XR, 2010 WL 2545418, at *5–6 (W.D. Tex. June 21, 2010) (finding a county had an affirmative duty under Title I of the ADA to institute policies and procedures to prevent discrimination against persons with seeing-eye dogs seeking access to the courthouse).

[26] See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) (holding that the Fifth Amendment places an affirmative duty on law enforcement officers to warn a suspect of certain rights before conducting a custodial interrogation).

[27] 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(iii).

[28] Hainze v. Richards, 207 F.3d 795, 801 (5th Cir. 2000).

[29] Rylee v. Chapman, 316 F. App’x 901, 906 (emphasis added) (citing Gaston v. Bellingrath Gardens & Home, Inc., 167 F.3d 1361, 1363 (11th Cir. 1999)).

[30] Id. at 903.

[31] Id.

[32] Id.

[33] Id. at 904.

[34] Id. at 906.

[35] 167 F.3d 1361 (11th Cir. 1999) (upholding summary judgment against a woman with a physical disability who, without requesting any accommodation, resigned and filed an ADA Title I discrimination suit when her employer added heavy lifting to her job description).

[36] Persons with disabilities can still state claims for wrongful arrest if they are targeted because of their disabilities.  See Rachel E. Brodin, Remedying a Particularized Form of Discrimination: Why Disabled Plaintiffs Can and Should Bring Claims for Police Misconduct under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 154 U. Pa. L. Rev. 157, 162 (2005).

[37] Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999) (setting forth the circumstances under which the ADA requires deinstitutionalization and community integration of persons with disabilities).

[38] Gordon Frankle et al., Clozapine-Associated Reduction in Arrest Rates of Psychotic Patients with Criminal Histories. 158 Am. J. Psychiatry 270 (2001) (finding nearly fifty percent of the urban mentally ill receiving outpatient services have histories of arrest).

[39] See Linda Teplin, Keeping the Peace: Police Discretion and Mentally Ill Persons, Nat’l Inst. Just. J., July 2000, at 12.

[40] Sam Cochran et al., Improving Police Response to Mentally Ill People, 51 Psychiatric Serv. 1315, 1315 (2000).

[41] Id.

[42] Seee.g., Mike Tolson, Tense Encounters, Tragic Consequences: Advocates for Mentally Ill Say Police Training Can Defuse Potentially Deadly Standoffs, Hous. Chron., Sept. 26, 1999, at A1 (describing how the tragic deaths of persons with mental disabilities in interactions with law enforcement have led to successful local programs to train police officers).

[43] Press Release, Chicago Police Department, Chicago Police Crisis Intervention Team, Easter Seals, and The Autism Program of Illinois Sponsor Autism Safety Awareness Event (Apr. 17, 2009), available at http://www.chicagopolice.org/MailingList/PressAttachment/releaseautism.pdf (noting that “[a]utism is the fastest growing developmental disability and our police officers, as well as the community, must be aware of behavioral cues and be prepared to intervene with appropriate responses to these challenges”).

[44] See, e.g.The Florida Crisis Intervention Team Program Model, Fla. Partners in Crisis, available at www.flpic.org/images/Florida%20CIT%20Program%20document.pdf.

[45] See, e.g., Bob Meadours Act, 79(R) S.B. 1473 (2005) (codified as amended at Tex. Educ. Code Ann. § 96.641 (2009); Tex Occ. Code Ann. §§ 1701.253, 402 (West 2009)); Illinois Police Training Act, 50 Ill. Comp. Stat. 705/1-12 (West 2005) (requiring police training curriculum to “include a block of instruction aimed at identifying and interacting with persons with autism and other developmental disabilities, reducing barriers to reporting crimes against persons with autism, and addressing the unique challenges presented by cases involving victims or witnesses with autism and other developmental disabilities”).

[46] Elizabeth Hervey Osborn, What Happened to Paul’s Law?: Insights on Advocating for Better Training and Better Outcomes in Encounters Between Law Enforcement and Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders, 79 U. Colo. L. Rev. 333, 334 (2008).

[47] See 42 U.S.C. § 12134 (2000).

[48] 28 C.F.R. § 35.101 (2009).

[49] 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A) (2006).

[50] See infra Appendix 1, Proposal 1.

[51] See infra Appendix 1, Proposal 2.

[52] See Corey H. v. Bd. of Educ., 995 F. Supp. 900, 918 (N.D. Ill. 1998).

[53] The undue burden defense is already well established in the ADA employment discrimination context. See 42 U.S.C. § 12111(10)(B) (2000) (setting forth factors for courts to consider in assessing the burden of providing reasonable accommodations).

[54] See U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing—ADA Guide for Law Enforcement Officershttp://www.ada.gov/lawenfcomm.htm (on file with the Harvard Law School Library).


[56] Proposed amendment appears in bold.

[57] This clause should accommodate rural or underfunded law enforcement agencies that lack both the resources to invest in specialized training and the connections to disability rights groups that have historically helped provide such training at little or no cost.  Seee.g., Press Release, supra note 43 (describing a cooperative effort between a non-profit and law enforcement to train officers).

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