Every year Colorado receives a couple of large snow storms. Sometimes there is so much snow problems are caused trying to clear it. This year, at least in Boulder, Colorado it created at least one potential violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
For example, recently a local Denver news station televised a story about fire hydrants covered by the snow and the public safety implications. Because in order to fight fires, firefighters must: 1. find the fire hydrants (which are buried by the snow) and 2. dig them out, all before they are able to be used. Both steps take valuable time in fighting fires.
However, the snow does not only create problems for firefighters. It can create problems for the disabled, too. Specifically, it appears handicap parking spaces, are at least at times, used as a dumping grounds for snow, leaving the disabled without designated parking spots. All the while, potentially violating the ADA.
The Denver Sheriff Department is not completely blind to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as it appears the agency could be with some of the abuse allegations lately.
Responding to my public records request under the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act, the Denver Sheriff provided me with documents related to mental health training and accommodations made in compliance with the ADA. I made the public records request because of the troubling, to put it mildly, allegations in the press that the Denver Sheriff used their Tasers to inflict pain, some of whom are mentally ill.1 Noelle Phillips, Denver Jail’s Taser Use At Odds With Federal Guidelines, Post Finds, Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_26846770/denver-jails-taser-use-at-odds-federal-guidelines?source=rss.
Provided with all the documentation related to my request (except for the course materials which would need to be printed for me at an extra charge), I think this should give a good overview of how the Denver Sheriff approaches mental health issues and disabilities in general.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, Title II Public Services, 42 U.S.C. § 12131, et. seq.
A qualifying disability is “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual.” The Americans with Disabilities Act, Definitions, 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1)(A).
Law enforcement needs to treat all people within their care with fairness and reasonableness. This includes people with disabilities.
Earlier this month, the Denver Post reported 1 Noelle Phillips, Denver Jail’s Taser Use At Odds With Federal Guidelines, Post Finds, Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_26846770/denver-jails-taser-use-at-odds-federal-guidelines?source=rss allegations that the Denver Sheriff Department “often rely on their Tasers to inflict pain to force inmates, some of whom are mentally ill.” The newspaper’s findings include: “[d]eputies used their Tasers’ drive-stun mode, designed to inflict direct pain, in at least eight cases”; and “[i]n at least six incidents, the inmate who was shocked had been experiencing a mental health episode.” 2Id.
The Denver Post reviewed fourteen Taser cases so far this year by the Denver Sheriff Department. In continuing coverage of the use of force by the Denver Sheriff, the Denver Post suggests, that if true, the allegations would violate federal Taser guidelines.
I am going to assert that if these allegations, if true, the conduct by the Denver Sheriff Department would violate federal law, the United States Constitution, and international law. At the very least these allegations, if true, at least amount police abuse, and at most to torture.