Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 29, 2013

Alzheimer’s training bill passes House

Peru Taser incident spurs Miami County legislator to craft proposal

By Carson Gerber
Tribune staff writer

— INDIANAPOLIS — The House last week unanimously approved new legislation requiring all law enforcement officers in the state to receive training regarding people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, introduced the bill earlier this month. He said he crafted the legislation in response to a Peru police officer, who last year Tasered a 64-year-old nursing home resident with advanced Alzheimer’s five times.

The bill says the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy must provide training regarding people with Alzheimer’s disease or related senile dementia. The training will be added to the academy’s yearly, mandatory in-service training program.

Officers currently undergo training on autism, mental illness, addictive disorders, mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

“Our men and women in uniform should have the training and expertise to deal with people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia,” Friend said in a released statement. “This disease is becoming more widespread, and this bill will help law enforcement officers take proper action when interacting with people who have the disease.”

Friend said he decided to write the legislation after he was contacted by the family of James Howard, who was Tasered five times at Miller’s Merry Manor Nursing Home in June by Peru officer Gregory Martin.

Police said Howard failed to comply with requests to enter an ambulance. When he resisted police attempts to subdue him, Martin Tased Howard. When Howard again did not obey commands to roll onto his stomach, he was Tasered four more times.

The Peru Board of Works fired Martin in August after officials determined he used excessive force in the incident. Martin currently is appealing the board’s decision in court and requesting back pay, wages and benefits accrued since he was fired.

Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, co-authored the bill and said it adds an essential layer of protection for people with Alzheimer’s and senile dementia.

“Police protection is one core service the government provides, and every Hoosier should feel secure in the fact that law enforcement officers are looking out for their best interests and know how to correctly handle any potential situation,” he said.

The bill has been referred to the Senate for a vote, with Republican Randy Head and Democrat Jim Arnold sponsoring it.

Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached at 765-854-6739, or by email at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.