Ohio bill would require cops to be trained on interacting with people with dementia

The bill would require police to learn effective communication techniques, alternatives to physical restraint and ways to identify and report patient abuse


Laura Hancock
Cleveland.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Would-be cops would get at least two hours of instruction on how to interact with dementia patients in peace officer training school, under a bipartisan, newly introduced Ohio House bill.

House Bill 441 comes as Ohio is on the brink of a demographic shift. Seniors are expected to outnumber those 18 and younger, according to the Alzheimer’s Association in Ohio.

Sponsored by Reps. Phil Plummer, a Dayton Republican who served as Montgomery County sheriff, and Thomas West, a Canton Democrat who worked for 25 years in mental health, HB 441 would require police to learn the following:

  • How to identify people with dementia, including its psychiatric and behavioral symptoms
  • Techniques for respectful and effective communication with dementia patients and their caregivers
  • Techniques for addressing behavioral symptoms of dementia, including alternatives to physical restraint
  • Identifying and reporting incidents of abuse, neglect and exploitation to the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
  • Protocols for contacting caregivers when a person is wandering or in an emergency or crisis situation
  • Local resources for individuals with dementia, and local and national organizations that assist police with locating missing and wandering people with dementia.

“Making sure that our peace officers and first responders are equipped to identify and effectively interact with Ohioans with dementia is crucial,” West said in a statement. “Our bill would ensure that they receive the necessary training to handle these situations and ensure the safety of our loved ones with this disease.”

The Alzheimer’s Association says one in three seniors has dementia and about 220,000 Ohioans currently live with Alzheimer’s and dementia – a number that’s expected to grow by more than 20% over the next five years.

“Those who are suffering with dementia deserve to have trained professionals looking out for them and working with them at all times,” Plummer said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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