On February 22, 2019, in Gray v. Cummings, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered whether, and to what extent, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to police encounters, including arrests. Recognizing that courts disagree on the point during an arrest at which Title II begins to apply, the First Circuit declined to enter the debate, assuming instead that Title II applied to the police encounter at hand for the purpose of adjudicating the claim on narrower grounds. This Comment argues that the next time the question of Title II’s applicability to arrests reaches the First Circuit, the court should adopt the approach embraced by the majority of circuits. The majority approach properly finds that Title II applies to arrests without exception and that exigent circumstances, rather than bar Title II claims, weigh in the balance of assessing the reasonableness of a proposed accommodation. This approach better reflects the language of, and legislative intent behind, Title II and appropriately balances the safety concerns of both disabled individuals and law enforcement personnel by allowing for a more fact-specific inquiry.
Michelle Kain, A Gray Area: The Scope of Title II of the ADA’s Applicability to Ad Hoc Police Encounters, 61 B.C.L. Rev. E.Supp. II.-93 (2020), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol61/iss9/12