LAS VEGAS — The ACLU of Nevada's first priority bill of the 2023 session of the Nevada Legislature seeks to make police traffic stops safer for people who are differently abled.
Assembly Bill 161, cosponsored by Assemblyman Cameron CH Miller and Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod and brought on behalf of ACLU of Nevada, is set for a hearing today.
The ACLU of Nevada offered a comprehensive amendment on the bill as originally drafted that would broadly define “person with communication impairment” to include those who are mute, deaf, are on the autism spectrum, or have a different auditory or communicative barrier. Those with a communication impairment would be able to voluntarily request a designation on their driver's license and vehicle registration that could be viewed by police officers before approaching a vehicle after a traffic stop.
The measure is expected to receive widespread support from civil rights advocates and law enforcement, including from NAACP Las Vegas, Opportunity Village, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Clark County Black Caucus, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Las Vegas Police Protective Association, and more.
ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Athar Haseebullah said:
“We hope to reduce the likelihood of a dangerous and potentially lethal police interaction where noncommunication is mistaken for noncompliance. Across the U.S. we have seen police encounters with people who are differently abled lead to civil rights violations and even deaths. Providing additional clarity about communications impairments to officers at the start of a traffic stop can streamline the experience for everyone involved and make our community that much safer.”
Assemblyman Cameron CH Miller said:
“When I got elected, I said I would fight to make Nevada a better place for everyone and that includes Nevadans that are differently abled and those with communication impairments. AB161 is a commonsense solution that protects Nevadans and gives police a tool that increases safety when engaging those who have voluntarily shared a communication impairment with the DMV, reducing the likelihood of a dangerous encounter because of misunderstanding. I don't have every solution, but I will try to act on all the ones that are common sense and will help our community move forward.”
Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod said:
“Having officers know there is a communication issue before walking up to the vehicle is huge. It will avoid misunderstandings and ultimately save lives.”
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