Right to Know Act

The interactions that people with disabilities have with police are too often potentially dangerous​​​. If you are stopped by the police, it is important to know your rights. This blog post will explain the law and what your rights are when you are stopped by a police officer. It is the police officer’s job to protect you, but unfortunately, for people with disabilities, police do not always act in a way that respects your rights. The best thing you can do when you are stopped by the police is to stay calm and not get angry with the police officer. Below are some important things to remember if you are ever stopped by a police officer.


What You Need to Know:


The Right to Know Act has been in effect as of October 18, 2019, and applies to everyone living in New York City. You have rights, including:


  • Police officers must tell you who they are at the beginning of certain interactions by providing their name, rank, command, and shield number.
  • Police officers must have business cards that have this information. These business cards must tell you where you can comment or complain about an encounter with an officer and where you may request any body-worn camera footage of the interaction.
  • You may always ask a police officer for their business card but police officers are only required to offer the card in certain circumstances, such as during a frisk, searches of your person, property, vehicle, or home, or at sobriety checkpoints.
  • If a police officer does not have a warrant to search you, your vehicle or your home, they should not search you unless they get your permission. The only times a police officer can search you is if:
    The police officer asks for your permission.
    The police officer tells you that a search won’t be done without your permission and checks to make sure you understand what they have said.
    And you gave permission to be searched.
  • If English is not your preferred language or you are Deaf or hard of hearing, you have a right to ask for appropriate interpretation services.
  • Police officers should always let you know how you can view a copy of the recording from the officer’s body camera. You can file for a copy of the recording .
  • If a police officer searches you without your permission, you should ask for their business card since this is a violation of your rights. Remember, they don’t have to ask for permission if they are arresting you or if they have a court summons.
    If you do not want to give permission for the police officer to search you, the best thing to say is: “I do not consent to this search.”
  • You are always allowed to ask “Am I free to leave?” if you are not being detained. The police officer should tell you that you are free to go.

**If you have any other questions about how you may be affected by the Know Your Rights Act, please reach out to us at 212-674-2300. **

Urge Congress to Continue the Money Follows the Person Program by Supporting the EMPOWER Care Act!

Money Follows the Person (MFP) is one of the longest-running, most successful Medicaid demonstrations. MFP was designed to help states transition people with disabilities from institutions into the community and to assist states in rebalancing their long-term services and supports systems to increase access to home and community-based services.

Since it began, 47 states have participated and over 75,000 people with disabilities have received assistance to leave institutions and move back home. Independent evaluations have proven MFP improves the quality of life for individuals and reduced Medicaid and Medicare expenditures by approximately 23%.

Unfortunately, MFP expired September 30, 2016, and states are running out of funding.

In New York, MFP funds the Open Doors Transition Center and Peer Outreach & Referral programs. Open Doors helps individuals living in nursing homes return to the community and assists individuals with developmental disabilities living in large group homes and institutions transition to smaller community settings or more integrated community programs. Since January 2015, Open Doors has assisted over 1800 individuals transition out of institutions and move back home! New York has committed to funding the Open Doors program through September 2019, however, we need to secure additional federal support to ensure the program is maintained beyond 2019!

The EMPOWER Care Act S. 2227 and H.R. 5306 would improve and extend the program for five years. So far, there are no New York Senators and Representatives on the bill. Help get New York to sign on as co-sponsors of the EMPOWER Care Act!

Act Now!

  • Call Senators Chuck Schumer and Gillibrand as well as your Representative and ask them to co-sponsor the EMPOWER Care Act today! You can reach them by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) and ask to be connected to your Senators or Representative.
  • Ask them to Co-Sponsor EMPOWER Care Act S.2227/H.R.5306 to extend the Money Follows the Person Program and pass it immediately.
  • Can’t call? You can also use Resistbot to turn texts into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters.
  • Spread the word: tweet and share this post on Facebook.

Talking Points

  • The Money Follows the Person Program brings people with disabilities and older adults back home to their communities.
  • The Money Follows the Person program gives people greater control over the lives.
  • It’s fiscally responsible! MFP improves the quality of life of individuals while saving states and the federal government Medicaid funding.
  • The program expired over a year ago. Without additional funding, states could scale back programs, potentially pulling the rug out from under the people who need it.
  • Talk about why this is important for you or someone you know, and the importance of the Open Doors program in New York. MFP frees people! MFP keeps families together!

Thanks to the New York State Independent Living Council for the details.

Support Funding for Independent Living Centers

We are thrilled that Representative Hanabusa (HI) sent a Dear Colleague letter to the entire House of Representatives. She asked them to join her in supporting an increase in funding for Independent Living Centers. Once signatures are received, Rep. Hanabusa will submit a letter to Chairman Cole (OK) and Ranking Member DeLauro (CT) of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-Ed) to request increased funding for the Independent Living Program and donating some ergonomic desk and chairs in FY 2019. So far, Representatives Norton (DC) and Sablan (CNMI) have signed on.
We need to get as many supporters as possible by Wednesday, March 14, 2018!
Take Action!
The Independent Living Program is a vital, cost-effective program that has been underfunded for years. We need your help to get as many other Representatives as possible to sign-on! Contact your Representative TODAY and urge them to sign on to Representative Hanabusa’s Independent Living Appropriations request. Make sure your Rep. knows how vital the Independent Living Program is to you, and how much the CILs in their state do for their disabled constituents!
All Representatives can be reached by the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). You can find your Representative’s direct DC and local office numbers as well as other contact information at Contacting Congress. You can also use Resistbot to turn texts into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters.
H/T National Council on Independent Living

Act Now for Student Loan Protection

Did you know that you can receive relief on student loans if you have a disability?
Have you had an issue with your school loans? We want to hear from you!
We wrote a memo in support of the New York Student Loan Protection bill.
For people with disabilities, education is a way out of higher rates of poverty and higher rates of unemployment compared to people without disabilities.
When some people acquire an illness or disability or stop their studies due to their disability, they can receive relief on their student loans through Temporary or Permanent Disability Discharge.
However, many lenders or servicers don’t explain this option, even when they are aware of the reasons for stopping payment.
Article VII Budget Legislation, TED Part W, Subpart A would create a student loan ombudsman and require licensing of student loan servicing companies. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Washington, and Washington DC have already passed similar bills.
Please call your State Senator and urge them to support the provisions, as part of the budget agreement.