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Bill would mandate police training in dealing with Alzheimer’s patients

Updated: January 9, 2013 11:33PM



INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana lawmaker dismayed by a police officer’s decision to use a stun gun on a nursing home patient is pushing for police to get training on how to interact with people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Republican state Rep. Bill Friend of Macy said his bill is in response to last year’s incident in which a Peru police officer used a stun gun five times on James Howard, a 64-year-old nursing home resident with advanced Alzheimer’s. Officer Gregory Martin said in a police report that Howard was combative and refused to get onto a stretcher and go to a hospital. Peru’s Board of Works fired the officer for using excessive force.

Howard’s family asked Friend to create specific legislation for officers dealing with Alzheimer’s patients, the legislator told the Kokomo Tribune. The bill would require officers to undergo six hours of training on Alzheimer’s disease and related senile dementia.

Friend said he has relatives in the same nursing home.

“You think, oh my gosh, that could happen to one of my family members,” Friend said.

State Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, co-authored the bill, which was referred to the Committee on Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Tuesday after its first reading in the House.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Howard’s wife, Virginia. “If they can get that passed, it’d be wonderful ... This is what I wanted done. I want the law changed.”

Indiana police officers currently undergo training on autism, mental illness, addictive disorders, mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

The senile-dementia training would inform officers how to take appropriate action when interacting with people who have Alzheimer’s, a disease that is becoming more common in Indiana, Friend said.

“As it becomes more prevalent, instances of officers encountering people with Alzheimer’s will likely go up,” he said. “With more training, hopefully we’ll avoid a situation like this from ever happening again.”



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