In my long career in public service, I have made it one of my top priorities to support and enact policies that benefit society’s greatest protectors—the men and women who serve in law enforcement. Our local and state police forces give of themselves each and every day to protect the citizens of Ohio, strangers and loved ones alike. From working as a prosecutor to being behind the scenes of lawmaking, I know how important it is to make the jobs of our police men and women a little easier.

That’s why I was proud to stand behind an initiative that works to improve communication between law enforcement and the public. House Bill 115 addresses an issue that came to the legislature’s attention from two constituents from different parts of the state, both who were worried about how their teenage children with communication disabilities would react if pulled over for a traffic stop or involved in a car accident.

With these concerns in mind, House Bill 115 would create a voluntary database of individuals with a communication disability, like autism, to be utilized by law enforcement. Administered by the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the database would be available to officers through the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS). The designation would be used through LEADS in a similar manner as individuals who carry a concealed carry license. Before approaching a vehicle, an officer may run its registration and will be notified if a driver or passenger has registered as having a communication disability.

Also known as the “No Labels Initiative,” the bill not only works to remove the stigma behind being labeled as a person with a disability, but it also works to enhance communications between those individuals and law enforcement. Because a person with such a condition might not react in a typical manner in these types of situations, this database would give our police officers more information to use specialized training, preventing possible misunderstandings and improving the safety of both parties.

In today’s world, there seems to be a spotlight of attention on the actions of our law enforcement officers, and I believe that House Bill 115 is good policy, aimed at providing for a better rapport between Ohio’s citizens and our hardworking police forces.

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