Alzheimer’s Association reacts to new Loveland Police video

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LOVELAND, Colo. (KDVR) — The Alzheimer’s Association said the new videos showing Loveland police appearing to make light of the arrest of a 73-year-old woman who suffers from dementia reinforce the need for training. The Alzheimer’s Association said officers need to do better. 

Alzheimer’s Association Communication Manager Jim Herlihy said he appreciates the need for officers to assess if someone is a threat, but he said people suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s need to be treated with more care.

“They seemed to understand she didn’t understand where she was, made it seem like they almost assessed her condition as a form of dementia, which means she needs a different form of treatment. And the place to deal with someone with Alzheimer’s is a disease that results in death. The place for her to receive treatment is not jail, but it’s in an emergency room,” Herlihy said. 

The attorney representing Karen Garner called these moments caught on video “disgusting,” “horrifying,” and “they cannot be unseen or unheard.” 

“It’s a sad story for her and her family. If there is a bright spot, it does shine a spotlight on the 76,000 people whose conditions and whose circumstances may not be fully understood,” Herlihy said. 

The Alzheimer’s Association said these new videos reinforce the need for training, which officers in Loveland are now receiving.

“It walks them through some scenarios, including wandering, shoplifting, in which the person they encounter may not respond well to commands or requests for them to behave a certain way,” Herlihy said. “They can appear to be, and are, disoriented and agitated. So that’s not necessarily a sign of them being disrespectful. It may prompt them to ask other questions.” 

Herlihy said he understands the need for officers to assess if someone is a threat, but he said people suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s need to be treated with more care.

“In the initial video, you could tell she was confused and wasn’t understanding the commands she was receiving from the officers. It is incumbent upon us as a society and first responders in particular to carefully assess this and reduce the risk to themselves as well as to this person,” Herlihy said. 

The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24-hour hotline where loved ones can call for professional advice. And they say it is a good resource for police and first responders as well. That number is 1-800-272-3900.

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