“They stopped me when I was getting on the bus,” Olsen told the Victorville Daily Press. “They asked me when I had last used meth and I said I had never used it. They said my pupils were completely red and put me in the back of the car. … I was really scared. I didn’t know what to do.”
A CBS LA report shows Olsen’s booking record is from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, which is contracted by the City of Hesperia for its police services.
According to Olsen, police officers asked her why her eyes were red. Olsen told them that she had allergies and had taken antibiotics.
“The guy was also laughing at me when I got arrested,” she said. “I don’t know if they were making fun of me or what.”
Her arrest was part of Hesperia’s “SMASH Gang Sweep,” where officers apparently drove around looking for people they could arrest on suspicion of drug use. Olsen said that the officers acted very unprofessionally as they conducted their sweep.
When the police called her father, Steve Olsen, to inform him of her arrest, he also told them that she had a disability. Their only response was to tell him that he could pick her up in six to eight hours.
“It’s like arresting a 5-year-old kid,” Steve Olsen said. “If the guy could not figure out that she has disabilities he is just an idiot. This one is so obvious.”
Olsen tested negative for her drug test. Her father says she’s never even taken a sip of alcohol before, let alone used drugs.
“I’m a retired fire captain and this is just the most outrageous thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” her father said. “I am a total supporter of law enforcement, but this was wrong. This was out of control.”
A family friend, Elizabeth Newman, said that police officers need to go through disability training.
“Our special needs community members should be allowed to take the bus to the store for a candy bar if they have the capacity to make the trip,” she said.
This is just another example of the police not understanding how to deal with people with disabilities. In many cases, their lack of training and empathy is fatal, because they assume that anyone resisting them has full mental capacity and immediately respond with violence. In fact, a 2012 study shows that about half of the people shot and killed by police are mentally ill. In many of these cases, police officers knew that the “subjects were unstable,” but went ahead and pulled the trigger.