State trains Greeneville Police on how to handle cases involving people with disabilities

GREENEVILLE, TN (WJHL)- This month state officials came to Northeast Tennessee to help train the Greeneville Police Department to handle cases involving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

This comes a few months after a Community Watchdog Investigation reveled 250 documented cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation at Green Valley Developmental Center since 2002. In most of those cases, the state’s internal investigators never alerted police.

Greene Valley is the state’s last institution to care for people with intellectual disabilities and is closing at the end of the year. Residents are now moving in to the community, and the state is helping equip officers on how to appropriately handle cases involving people with disabilities.

“Any information that an officer can have to make those interactions better for everybody is very valuable,” Greeneville Police Department Captain Tim Ward said.

Cara Kumari, spokesperson for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities said the state created training for police officers as a part of a plan to get out of a long-standing lawsuit, which also required the closure of Greene Valley.

“DIDD developed a training for law enforcement officers on how to interact with people with disabilities should they have an encounter with a person with a disability, a little bit of what intellectual disabilities are, and just some tools for their tool kit,” Kumari said.

“For me it was an eye-opener,” Ward said.

Ward said he learned about specific ways to carefully approach situations involving people with disabilities.

“The ADA requires law enforcement to make reasonable accommodations for people with a disability but if they’re not able to recognize the presence of a disability, they may not know that they need to make those accommodations,” Kumari said.

Ward said the training also emphasized that DIDD and police will investigate cases involving those in DIDD care together.

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