Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk is the next stop for legislation requiring new recruits in law enforcement to receive training to recognize Alzheimer’s and how to respond to people with the disease. Senate Bill 315, by Sen. Brian Crain and Rep. Marian Cooksey, was approved by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
An individual with Alzheimer’s may get confused and wander off, but when someone tries to help them, they may seem combative and aggressive. Crain said recognizing the symptoms and responding correctly can ensure a positive resolution.
“Right now, more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and the majority live at home in the community,” said Crain, R-Tulsa. “This bill simply requires the basic training for new members of law enforcement to include training in Alzheimer’s so they can better distinguish between this medical disorder and disorderly conduct.”
SB 315 expands the basic training required through the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) to include a minimum of two hours to help new members of law enforcement better recognize the symptoms and behaviors of a person with Alzheimer’s and give them instruction in the best way to respond to encounters with such individuals.
“This legislation is a great first step in helping Oklahoma’s law enforcement officers better address the unique needs of those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia,” said Cooksey, R-Edmond.
SB 315 was requested by the Oklahoma Alzheimer’s Association and is supported by AARP Oklahoma. AARP State President Marjorie Lyons said there was a real need for the legislation—a need that will only grow in the coming years.
"This measure is crucial in assisting law enforcement in recognizing the symptoms of individuals that they encounter who may be suffering from Alzheimer's disease or dementia,” Lyons said. “It’s needed now more than ever before, as the number of older Oklahomans suffering from these diseases continues to increase. On behalf of our 410,000 members across the state, we appreciate the efforts of Senator Crain and Representative Cooksey in securing legislative passage of SB 315 and we look forward to Governor Fallin signing this legislation into law."