Gusciora & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Strengthen Delivery of Law Enforcement Services to Individuals with Mental & Developmental Disabilities Approved by Assembly Panel
(TRENTON) – An Assembly committee on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) to create a voluntary registry for individuals with mental or developmental disabilities in New Jersey that would be helpful to law enforcement officers and other First Responders
Gusciora drafted the bill after he was approached by a Ewing police officer who read about a mentally disabled man who was allegedly beaten by state troopers in Warren County, and thought there needed to be a better way for law enforcement officers to deal with persons with disabilities. Gusciora also met with several groups that serve individuals with disabilities including ARC Mercer and Autism New Jersey, Inc to discuss ways law enforcement agencies can better serve people with disabilities.
“First Responders often encounter persons with mental or developmentally disabilities in emergency situations,” said Gusciora. “The problem arises when the police or first aid responders mistake any intemperate behavior from individuals at the scene for criminal behavior. There are other instances when an adult with autism or even Alzheimer’s disease becomes lost and is found by law enforcement and they do not know how to calm them or contact their family members who could help.”