A Systematic Review of Evaluations of Law Enforcement Training Relating to Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities



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There are millions of people in the United States living with a disability. Law enforcement officers, due to the unique responsibilities of their profession, are more likely to come into contact with people who have disabilities. An officer’s knowledge of how to effectively interact and communicate with people with disabilities is crucial to providing service. Training is used to provide officers with these skills. In order to determine if training is addressing the specific needs of intellectually and developmentally disabled people, evaluations must be conducted. This thesis provides a systematic review of academic evaluations of police training focused on intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals. After screening eighteen databases and assessing fifteen articles against preset eligibility criterion only nine articles were included in the final analysis. These nine articles evaluated trainings focused on a variety of intellectual and developmental disabilities. All but one study reported statistically significant findings in areas such as attitude, knowledge, and identification. Despite the promising findings, many of the studies had methodological limitations including small sample sizes, lack of psychometric properties, and testing only short-term outcomes. Overall, academic research evaluating police training focused on intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals is scarce and there are improvements which need to be made in order to determine best practices.



Developmental disability, Intellectual disability, Police, Law enforcement, Training