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Program allows disabled residents to share medical info with Mesa Police

(Facebook/Mesa Police Department)

PHOENIX — Mesa Police Department has introduced a program that allows residents with disabilities to share health information with police in an effort to aid first responders.

“It’s a voluntary program and it’s put in place for persons affected with mental illness or cognitive disorder, or it could be any disability, not just mental illness,” Mesa Police Detective Brandi George told KTAR News 92.3 FM. 

“It’s to provide additional information to the police department to in order to assist other officers responding to their house or any calls to service that involve that person.”

Any Mesa resident with a disability, or their legal guardian, can apply to the Resident Assistance Program.

The application includes questions about emergency contacts, diagnoses, communication methods, medications and special considerations like fear of dogs and noise sensitivity.

“If officers are dispatched to, let’s say, an unknown trouble call at a residence where screaming is going on … and a neighbor is reporting this, because of the Resident Assistance Program, additional comments can be provided to the officers responding, and they may hear that ‘OK, a 20-year-old male lives there with autism and violent tendencies,’ and so they can prepare themselves for when they get there on what they’re walking into,” she said.

Program participants may ask to have their information removed from the department’s files at any time.

Police will keep the information on hand for one year. After that period, they will either get confirmation from participants that they want to continue with the program, or they will purge the data.

According to a Washington Post report, at least 203 of the 995 Americans shot and killed by police in 2018 were mentally ill, including at least seven of the 63 people fatally shot by police in Arizona.

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