BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Frederick County man with disabilities dies during an encounter with sheriff’s deputies. Now state officials are pushing for change to try to avoid another tragedy.
Meghan McCorkell has more on the recommendations.
A commission formed by the governor is looking to revamp how first responders across the state are trained to deal with those with disabilities.
Instead of celebrating her son’s 27th birthday, Patti Saylor fights for other families.
“The hole in our family is still as big as it was a year ago,” she said.
Nearly a year ago, Ethan Saylor, who had Down syndrome, refused to leave a Frederick movie theater because he wanted to watch a movie again. He died when sheriff’s deputies tried to forcibly remove him.
In the wake of his death, the governor formed a commission to look into the treatment of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Thursday, the group released findings, saying police training for interacting with people with disabilities is “inconsistent” and “not comprehensive.”
The commission will form a plan of action for law enforcement, focusing on a person-centered approach to training.
Department of Disabilities Secretary Catherine Raggio says training is key.
“So that everyone knows how to appropriately respond so that we don’t exacerbate incidents unnecessarily,” she said.
The commission will now hold public hearings to get feedback about the recommendations.
“We want to know from people across the state what they believe law enforcement needs to know and what training Maryland should be offering,” Raggio said.
Saylor’s family hopes the commission’s findings make a difference.
“Our loss is a gift to us to do something with,” said Patti Saylor.
A gift that may save other lives.
The deputies involved in Saylor’s death were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, but they have been named in a civil suit filed by the family.
A timeline for the implementation of training changes will be put together in March.
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