Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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May 3, 2013

Gov. signs Alzheimer’s training bill

New policy a response to Peru stun gun incident.

Indianapolis — Indiana law now requires every law enforcement officer in the state to undergo training on how to interact with people with Alzheimer’s disease or senile dementia.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the new statute into law Thursday. The bill takes effect July 1.

Rep. Bill Friend, R-Macy, introduced the legislation in January in response to a Peru police officer who last year used a stun gun on a 64-year-old nursing home resident with advanced Alzheimer’s disease.

Friend said he was dismayed when he learned of the incident from the family of James Howard, who was shocked five times at Miller’s Merry Manor Nursing Home in June by Peru officer Gregory Martin.

The Peru Board of Works fired Martin in August after officials determined he used excessive force in the incident.

A Cass County judge overturned the board’s decision in March, saying Martin utilized the Taser in an effort to minimize injury to Howard and followed police policy that determines the use of the weapon.

City officials currently are working to appeal the judge’s decision in a state court.

Friend said Alzheimer’s is becoming more widespread and the extra training will help officers take proper action when interacting with people who have the disease.

“With more training, hopefully we’ll avoid a situation like this from ever happening again,” he said in a previous interview.

The training will be added to the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy’s yearly, mandatory in-service training program.

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

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

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