Disabled Lives Matter


Dr. Rolf Gainer, PhD, Diplomate, ABDA

       Rolf B. Gainer, PhD

Much comparison has been made of the shootings this week in Tulsa and Charlotte. In both deaths of Terance Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott by police this week, the factor of disability ties these events together. In Tulsa it was vision and hearing loss, and in Charlotte, it was brain injury. In the video of the Charlotte incident, tragically taken by Scott’s wife, you can hear her scream at the officers that her husband has a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), and that he had just taken his medication.

This brings up the issues: Are police trained to recognize how disability may effect how people respond to intervention? Are they trained to recognize the physical, cognitive and behavioral components of disability? Or, in crisis is there a response mode which causes law enforcement personnel to act without consideration of a person’s disability?

We recognize and respect how dangerous police work is and the great risks that each officer takes every day. On the other hand, if they knew more about disability could these tragedies have been prevented.

In hindsight, there are “should have’s” and “could have’s”. We need to help law enforcement understand the impact of disability on what they may see in the streets and understand how disability may effect a person.  Life is not a video game, and our ignorance of disability has real and permanent consequences.

About Rolf Gainer Ph.D.

Dr. Rolf Gainer is the founder of the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma as well as the Neurological Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario, in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Gainer is a psychologist with more than twenty-five years of experience in the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. Dr. Gainer has designed and operated innovative rehabilitation programs in the United States and Canada for individuals who have been regarded as difficult to serve. He is currently involved in conducting two outcome studies related to the long-term issues faced by individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. He has presented papers throughout the United States and Canada in many professional conferences and educational forums.

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