After Ethan Saylor death, panel calls for better training on disabilities

Maryland law enforcement workers need more guidance in dealing with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to a commission formed after a man with Down syndrome died in a struggle with Frederick County sheriff's deputies.

Gov. Martin O'Malley created the Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in September after Robert "Ethan" Saylor, 26, died Jan. 12 after deputies attempted to remove him from a Frederick movie theater.

"Current training of law enforcement personnel in Maryland on how best to interact with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is not offered in every jurisdiction and what is provided is inconsistent and not comprehensive," the commission wrote in a progress report released Thursday.

The commission also found that nationally "there is no one training curriculum or law that provides the scope of training across a variety of sectors that the Commission seeks for Maryland."

The group will create recommendations for policy and training law enforcement, and other first responders who regularly interact individuals with developmental disabilities.

The police officers were cleared of any wrongdoing in Saylor's death but they are named in a lawsuit brought by his family, who said Saylor's death could've been avoided.

The commission will hold four public hearings as they prepare more detailed recommendations. The first meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring.

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