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Presidential Candidates & Preventing Police Violence Against People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Feb. 1 – As a nonpartisan national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of community, RespectAbility has invited all candidates in the presidential race on both sides of the aisle to submit their answers to a 2020 Disability Voter Candidate Questionnaire. Question 8 in the Questionnaire was: “People with disabilities also are far more likely to suffer from police violence, partially because manifestations of disability can be misunderstood. How would you address these issues?

Below, read the answers from the five candidates who responded:

close-up of pete buttigieg's face

Mayor Pete Buttigieg

“It is unacceptable that almost half of the people killed by police in the United States have a disability. This is often due to poor training of police officers. I will make sure we train first responders and police to identify and appropriately respond to individuals with disabilities. First responders are often responsible for responding to individuals with a range of disabilities, from deafness to mental health and addiction needs.”

Read the full response (Question 8)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

“As President, Senator Klobuchar will work with local and state authorities to ensure that responding to people with disabilities is a core part of law enforcement officer training, and expand training to public health departments, first responders and school personnel. Senator Klobuchar also supports recommending de-escalation techniques to reduce the use of force and will work to ensure that departments accurately and properly report, document and investigate use of force incidents.”

Read the full response (Question 8)

headshot of Amy Klobuchar smiling

close-up of Bernie Sanders smiling while wearing a suit and a tie

Sen. Bernie Sanders

“All too often, people with disabilities, especially people of color with disabilities, face violence from law enforcement. This requires more than just training — it requires accountability. Approximately half of all people who die in police-involved shootings have a disability. In order to protect the rights of people with disabilities, we intend to make discriminatory law enforcement interactions with people with disabilities a major enforcement priority of the Civil Rights Division.”

Read the full response (Question 8)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

“As president, I will establish a federal standard on use-of-force and increase funding for training. I’ll provide tools and resources to ensure that best practices on law enforcement training are available across America, giving local police what they need to meet federal training requirements, including training on implicit bias and the scientific and psychological roots of discrimination, cultural competency, and engaging individuals with cognitive or other disabilities.”

Read the full response (Question 8)

Elizabeth Warren smiling wearing a blue suit

close up of Andrew Yang smiling wearing a white collared shirt and gray suit jacket

Mr. Andrew Yang

“People with disabilities are often incarcerated when it would be more appropriate to provide them with treatment for their conditions. Andrew will require law enforcement officers to participate in de-escalation training and mental health competency training courses, as well as ensure that they have the funding necessary to provide for mental health first responders. This will give law enforcement better alternatives in handling hostile situations rather than reactionary, unnecessary violence.”

Read the full response (Question 8)

RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes as voters go to the polls. RespectAbility has reached out to all of the presidential campaigns and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report. View more coverage of 2020 presidential candidates. 

Published inAmy KlobucharAndrew YangBernie SandersDemocratsElizabeth WarrenPete Buttigieg

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