May 19, 2023

Reps. Casten, Wild, Fitzpatrick Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Safe Interactions Act to Improve Interactions Between Law Enforcement and People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sean Casten (D-IL-06) re-introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Safe Interactions Act alongside Congresswoman Susan Wild (D-PA-07) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) to improve interactions between law enforcement officers and people with disabilities and mental health needs. This bill provides grant funding to create partnerships between non-profit disability organizations and law enforcement agencies to administer enhanced training programs for law enforcement officers about interactions with people with disabilities, so we can create safer communities for everyone.

“Ensuring law enforcement has sufficient training and resources to effectively respond to situations involving people with disabilities and mental health needs not only makes our community safer, but it also reduces violence towards vulnerable populations,” said Rep. Sean Casten. “I’m proud to join Congresswoman Wild, Senator Casey, and Congressman Fitzpatrick in co-sponsoring this legislation that creates the necessary programs to achieve that goal.”

“We must do more to ensure that interactions between law enforcement and people experiencing a mental health crisis or living with a disability are informed by best practices for the safety and wellbeing of everyone,” said Congresswoman Susan Wild. “I introduced the bipartisan Safe Interactions Act to establish comprehensive training for law enforcement officers on working with those in crisis or living with a disability, to prevent miscommunication between vulnerable members of our community and the officers trying to keep us safe.”

“Individuals with disabilities and mental health needs are important contributors in our communities,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to join this bipartisan, bicameral group of colleagues in leading the bipartisan Safe Interactions Act to provide law enforcement officials with the training and support they need to promote effective communication with vulnerable populations and keep us safe.”

About the Safe Interactions Act

The Safe Interactions Act would provide grants to enable non-profit disability organizations to develop training programs that support safe interactions between law enforcement officers and people with disabilities. The training would be directed to both new and veteran officers and would include people with disabilities in the training as instructors. It would also establish an advisory council, chaired by a person with a disability, to oversee the training program development and implementation.

The Washington Post database of police shootings estimates that at least 25 percent of shootings involve a person with a mental health disability, and a Ruderman Family Foundation report found that 33 to 50 percent of all use-of-force police incidents involve people with mental health disabilities – making the Safe Interactions Act a key step in addressing the disproportionate incidences of violence involving law enforcement and people with disabilities.

  • The Safe Interactions Act is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.
  • A companion bill in the Senate is led by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA).