By Astrid Zuniga, UDW Vice President
I am a mother of five, grandmother of eight, and proud IHSS home care provider for my son Manuel, who lives with autism and intellectual disabilities.
Like any provider who cares for a person with severe autism and other kinds of cognitive disabilities, I am worried about what happens if Manuel wanders or gets lost and comes across a police officer. Did you know that half of people killed by police are people with disabilities?
Manuel is nonverbal, aggressive, and has no fear of strangers or other kinds of danger. I worry about what could happen if he encounters a police officer or other first responder who doesn’t know how to deescalate situations with people like him. I worry that if Manuel is violent, or if he doesn’t follow orders, that the police may decide it’s necessary to use force against him.
Our clients and loved ones need our help. In 2017 our union UDW is sponsoring legislation – AB 437 – which would create a system so that people with disabilities and seniors can voluntarily provide vital information about themselves to first responders in their communities. The information they provide will help law enforcement know how to interact with people like Manuel. It will help first responders to react appropriately to our clients’ behavior and deescalate interactions so that no one is put in harm’s way. You can read the bill here.
Will you help me? I am asking my fellow UDW providers to join me to help pass AB 437. Do you have a client who is prone to wander? Or who has special needs when interacting with first responders? Fill out this survey to get involved today!