Enact Stephon Watts’ Developmental Disabled Protection and Safety Act
We the undersigned hereby affirm and support enacting Stephon Edward Watts’ Developmental Disabled Protection and Safety Act otherwise known as Stephon’s Law.
Stephon’s Law, named in memory of Stephon Edward Watts, a developmentally disabled 15-year-old who was shot and killed, by police, in his home February 1, 2012. The officers involved in the shooting had been trained to deal with persons on the Autism Spectrum, like Stephon, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome; however, the training was inadequate in addressing the significant social, communication, and behavioral manifestations and unique nature of the disorder. Though police had made numerous visits to the home to assist with Stephon, due to agitation and aggression attributed to his disability; they were not able to render a satisfactory conclusion.
Recent data has informed us that Autism Spectrum Disorders are still on the rise affecting 1 in 88 children and specifically 1 in 54 boys, consequently, the likelihood of a first responder encountering a person with a developmental disability increases as the number of persons affected increases. With the aforementioned statistic in mind, it is crucial that we as a public increase awareness, understanding and acceptance of this population and similar populations.
The mission of Stephon’s Law is to reasonably ensure that encounters between the developmentally disabled and the community-at-large do not end in tragedy. Stephon’s law will expand disability rights laws that serve the developmentally disabled in the following ways: by mandating that all first responders receive adequate minimal training to address the exceptional needs of members of this population, and that all departments comprise crisis intervention teams that possess advanced training in cases of urgency; by establishing a protocol for parents, guardians, or the developmentally disabled, themselves, to register with local emergency response departments of their residence and nature of disability; and by minimizing danger to the developmentally disabled by maximizing penalties for crimes against them.
The developmentally disabled population must have the safety and protection that is afforded them by constitutuional and federal civil rights, and fundamental human rights belonging to all persons by virtue of birth. Please give solemn consideration to this matter of utmost importance.