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Maryland Unanimously Adopts Comprehensive Training Program for Police

Sowmya Nath,'s picture
December 22, 2014
Recruits will be trained to safely manage situations involving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, representatives from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections unanimously adopted a comprehensive inclusion training program for law enforcement recruits at the police academy. The training program was recommended by the Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, established in 2013 by Governor O'Malley. In part, the commission was formed in response to the death of Frederick resident Ethan Saylor, a young man with Down syndrome. The commission was charged with developing recommendations about the types of training standards that Maryland should adopt to educate people who interact with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) - particularly those in public sector positions such as law enforcement officials, paramedics, and other first responders - about the best approaches for safely managing situations involving individuals with IDD.

Patti Saylor
Patti Saylor, disability advocate, said, "The Saylor family is particularly thrilled to know that self advocates will have the opportunity to be actively involved in providing this important training."

Commission chair Timothy Shriver, CEO of the Special Olympics, created a subcommittee to work closely with the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission's staff to develop pre-service training objectives for Maryland's police academies. The subcommittee reviewed existing training programs about individuals with IDD offered to law enforcement and found training to be inconsistent across state jurisdictions. The subcommittee also found that no comprehensive training program existed that would meet the goals of the commission. To correct this deficit, a number of training objectives were proposed to Maryland's Police Training Commission. These training objectives included identifying procedures an officer should employ when encountering an individual with an IDD, a physical disability, or a mental illness, as well as identifying the indicators that an individual may have an IDD. These objectives also explained resources available to an officer and communication techniques required to effectively protect and interact with an individual with an IDD while complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Throughout the development of the training objectives, self-advocates from People On The Go and other self-advocacy organizations, agency and organization representatives such as the MCDD, and family members of individuals with disabilities reviewed the training objectives. These individuals provided important feedback and attended some of the pilot training modules. The Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is pleased that a statewide training curriculum, incorporating the adopted training objectives, will be available by the end of December 2014. Patti Saylor, Ethan's mother, shared with the MCDD staff, "Our family is extremely pleased the Police Correctional and Training Commission took this monumental step forward. The adoption of these training objectives is a great first step toward greater safety for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. All future police academy recruits can now expect to receive accurate, relevant information regarding how to appropriately interact with individuals who have intellectual or developmental disabilities. The Saylor family is particularly thrilled to know that self-advocates will have the opportunity to be actively involved in providing this important training."

The latest Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities meeting was held on December 15, 2014. All meetings are open to the public.