Wikimedia Commons/Edward Kimmel
Project Blue Able is a new program the Iowa City Police Department is looking at using to interact with those who have disabilities.
In 2018, over 300,000 were reported having a disability, the Iowa Data Center said. Of those, more than 160,000 were over 65 years of age.
A public meeting will be held at the Mercer Park Aquatic Center to discuss how the program will be run. People with disabilities or family members of those are encouraged to attend to voice their advice on the program.
“Anytime we're being inclusive, it's gonna better serve all the community members," Iowa City Police Officer Travis Neeld told KCRG. “It's going to make us more professional, it's going to allow us to be more transparent. It's going to create an environment where everyone feels safer and everyone feels valued.”
Access 2 Independence for Eastern Iowa Corridor, an organization that works with disabled people, is helping the police with the program.
"Iowa City will be the first to implement something like this in the state of Iowa,” Executive Director Sarah Martinez told KCRG. “So I think this pilot program could be really big in starting the conversation in the state of breaking down barriers between first responders, law enforcement, and persons with disabilities."
Iowa City police don't know when the program will begin and are still in the planning stages.
The idea for Project Blue Able came from a similar program in Connecticut.
People who attend the meeting will be given a card that links to an online survey. This is a way for them to give more advice and suggestions for the program. The Iowa City Police are also looking for more people to be a part of the task force.