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Police Complaints Board Recommends Steps to Ensure Adequate Police Service for Disabled Persons Who Use Service Animals

Thursday, August 17, 2006

(Washington, DC) The Police Complaints Board (PCB) today submitted a report and recommendations to Mayor Anthony A. Williams, the Council of the District of Columbia, and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Charles H. Ramsey concerning police interactions with disabled people who use service animals.

A complaint filed by a citizen with the Office of Police Complaints (OPC) highlighted that MPD does not have a written policy or training regarding how officers should respond to people with disabilities who use service animals. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.”  The act essentially requires police departments to modify their practices and procedures as necessary to ensure that persons with disabilities, including those who rely on service animals, are provided with police services to the same degree as non-disabled people.

“The lack of guidance and training to MPD officers in this area increases the risk of officers responding to a disabled person who uses a service animal in a manner that violates the ADA,” said Philip K. Eure, OPC’s executive director.  “We want to encourage the District Government to be more proactive in meeting the needs of people with disabilities.”

To further this goal, PCB recommended that MPD: (1) Issue a general order that provides information to officers on handling requests for service that involve service animals; (2) Include a specific section on service animals in training on disabilities and ADA compliance; and (3) Conduct a roll-call training lesson for all officers on service animals as soon as possible.

PCB issued its report and recommendations pursuant to its statutory obligation to, where appropriate, make recommendations to the Mayor, the Council, and the Chief of Police concerning those elements of management of the MPD affecting the incidence of police misconduct, such as the recruitment, training, evaluation, discipline, and supervision of police officers.

PCB's report and recommendations are available online:

For additional information or questions regarding the report and recommendations, please contact OPC's public affairs specialist, Melanie Deggins, at (202) 727-3838.