New Florida Law Provides for Developmentally Disabled in Police Interviews

A new law has been passed in Florida, allowing people with developmental and cognitive disabilities to have an expert with them during a police interview.  This expert will be provided to explain what is happening and help the interviewee understand the questions being asked.  

According to the Sun Sentinel article on the legislation, and the impetus for it, "Law enforcement officers must now, upon the request of the disabled or their parent or guardian, have a psychologist, therapist or other expert present during questioning. The expert has to be paid for by the requester, but in the case of victims, the money will be reimbursed by a defendant, if convicted".

This is the first of its kind legislation in the U.S., providing for the rights of those with developmental and cognitive disabilities during a police interview.  The Sentinel article draws the analogy to persons whose first language is not English.  "If the police brought in someone who spoke Spanish or Creole, they'd have an interpreter. Now, there will be someone who knows about disability and can guide them through the situation."

The legislation also addresses the question of how police will know when a person has a developmental disability.  One possibility through the new law allows persons with developmental and cognitive disabilities to have a "D" printed on their state ID cards, identifying them as having a disability, and requiring police to secure an expert for the individual.