SYKESVILLE, Md. (AP) — Maryland will be the first state to teach all law enforcement officers about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in training sessions led partly by disabled people, the chairman of a commission developing the program said.
Timothy Shriver, who also chairs the national Special Olympics, said lessons taught by those whom the program aims to serve will have more impact "because they don't just teach it with words, they don't just teach it with exercises, they teach it with relationships."
Panel members met Thursday in Sykesville to begin shaping the training regimen. They plan to produce a curriculum for use in police academies and in-service training for all 17,000 veteran officers starting in 2015.
The panel aims to involve people with disabilities in every lesson, either in person or through videos.
"We want the training to be conducted by people with intellectual and developmental differences," Shriver said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "To our knowledge, no state has accepted that challenge as a statewide challenge."
Shriver's mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded the Special Olympics, and his aunt Rosemary Kennedy had an intellectual disability.
The training, mandated by the 2014 General Assembly, stems from the death in custody of a man with Down syndrome. Robert Ethan Saylor, 26, of New Market, suffered a fractured larynx and suffocated as three off-duty Frederick County sheriff's deputies, moonlighting as mall security officers, tried to forcibly remove him from a movie theater in January 2013. They were summoned to remove Saylor because he hadn't purchased a ticket for a repeat viewing of "Zero Dark Thirty."