Panel: People with disabilities should train police how to interact with those like themselves

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HAGERSTOWN, Maryland — A Maryland commission formed in response to the in-custody death of a man with Down syndrome says the state should create a center in his name where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities would learn how to teach organizations how to effectively interact with people like themselves.

The panel also proposed legislation that would require every Maryland law-enforcement agency to adopt a program that includes people with disabilities as trainers.

The Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Development Disabilities made the recommendations in a report Wednesday to Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and leaders of the state Senate and House of Delegates. O'Malley's office released the report Wednesday night.

It recommends that the Ethan Saylor Maryland Center for Self-Advocates be housed at a university and function as an independent unit of state government. It would be named for Robert Ethan Saylor, 26, of New Market. He suffocated in January 2013 as three Frederick County sheriff's deputies, moonlighting as mall security officers, tried to forcibly remove him from a movie theater because he hadn't paid for a second viewing of the film, "Zero Dark Thirty." The death was ruled a homicide but a grand jury declined to indict the officers.

A state law passed last year requires all Maryland police agencies to provide training about people with physical, intellectual, developmental and psychiatric disabilities. In October, the Maryland Police Training Commission adopted objectives recommended by the Saylor panel for training recruits at the academy level.

The training curriculum, which includes self-advocates, is being readied for use in police academies in January, the report said.

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