Autistic, Hard of Hearing in Michigan Offers Designation Michigan News

By ANNA LIZ NICHOLS, Associated Press / Report for America

MASON, Mich. (AP) – Michigan residents with conditions that may interfere with law enforcement, such as deafness or autism, can now apply for a designation associated with their information that appears on the computer system for officers during roadside checks.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson promoted the so-called communication barrier designation that went into effect this month during a press conference Monday in Mason. She also discussed measures to give residents more access to branch appointments, which should reduce backlogs by Labor Day.

The designation would not appear on ID cards or documents, but it would appear on the law enforcement information network used by police to create safe and productive interactions.

Benson attributed the change in large part to the efforts of community advocate Xavier DeGroat, whose own experience with police during a traffic stop prompted him to create better interactions between people with autism like him and the forces of the order.

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“I am one of those people who fought for justice for myself, I was arrested here about five years ago, to whom the police told me, ‘Hurry up, hurry up you get your insurance card, ”DeGroat said. “With the sirens blaring, I didn’t know how to properly react to the officer.

Under DeGroat’s leadership, the Legislature unanimously passed two bills to create the designation.

Certain actions can make it difficult for people with autism to comply with instructions, while the inability to hear and respond to commands can potentially create a hazard during traffic stops.

Anna Liz Nichols is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative corps. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.

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