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Program will better prepare officers for interaction with individuals
with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


BALTIMORE (October 10, 2014) - On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, members of the Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (Inclusion Commission) appeared before the Maryland Police Training Commission to discuss training objectives for a comprehensive inclusion training program for law enforcement recruits at the academy level.  The recommendations were presented by Commission members George P. Failla, Jr., Acting Secretary of the Maryland Department of Disabilities, Charles W. Rapp, Executive Director of the Police and Correctional Training Commissions and Joanna Person, Executive Director of the Arc of Frederick County.  The Police Training Commission unanimously adopted the training objectives at the meeting.


"We established the Commission last year to better educate people who interact with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  As part of their work, Chairman Tim Shriver and his fellow commissioners were able to contribute positively to the proposal approved today," said Governor O'Malley. "I applaud today's action by the Police Training Commission, which will help Marylanders receive the protections they deserve. Together, we'll continue to work toward ensuring that we respect the dignity of every individual in our State." 


"These new state-wide training guidelines will help our police officers work with the community to ensure that all Marylanders have access to the protection and rights they deserve," said Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. "We will continue to partner with local law enforcement, advocates, and families to support Marylanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and help every one of our neighbors feel safe in their homes and in their neighborhoods." 


The Inclusion Commission was created through Executive Order by Governor O'Malley on September 17, 2013, in part as a response to the circumstances surrounding the death of Frederick County resident Ethan Saylor, an individual with Down syndrome.  The Commission was asked to develop recommendations about the types of training standards that Maryland should adopt to educate law enforcement officers who interact with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)  and the best approaches to ensure that people with IDD are safe, understood and included in the community.  


"As Chair of the Inclusion Commission and a Marylander, I am extremely proud that the Maryland Police Training Commission has adopted these training objectives.  It is a critical first-step toward achieving a State where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities feel safe, understood, and included in their communities and by the men and women of law enforcement," said Chairman Tim Shriver.  "The Commission will continue to work to achieve its vision of creating a more compassionate, knowledgeable and understanding society that respects the life-saving work of our public servants along-side the valuable contributions of our citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities."


As part of its mandate, the Inclusion Commission reviewed training programs about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities currently offered to law enforcement personnel throughout Maryland  The Commission found that training is not available statewide and that what is taught and how it is taught varied by jurisdiction.    The Commission also researched national training programs and found that while there were elements of existing programs that may be included in a comprehensive inclusion training plan, no current training curriculum exists that adequately addresses the effective inclusion of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.   


"With Governor O'Malley's leadership and the Inclusion Commission's vision, Maryland will lead by example in creating a more inclusive environment for people with Intellectual and developmental disabilities" said Acting Secretary Failla.  "I was particularly gratified by the Police Training Commission support, lead by Colonel Brown's unwavering commitment, in collaboratively developing the standards and commitment to their implementation, effective as of January 2015." 


Over the past thirteen months, the Inclusion Commission's Training Subcommittee, chaired by Joanna Pierson, worked closely with the Police and Correctional Training Commissions' staff to develop pre-service training objectives for Maryland's police academies.    Self-advocates, representatives of disability organizations, and family members reviewed the training objectives and several attended the initial pilot of some of the training modules resulting from that work.   Representatives from various law enforcement agencies, including training directors, also reviewed these objectives and offered feedback.  Additionally, the Maryland State Police and Department of Natural Resources Police participated in the first pilot, implementing the training with current recruits and recent academy graduates. 


The Inclusion Commission's proposal to the Police Training Commission includes training objectives that:

  • Identify the procedures that an officer should/may employ when encountering an individual with an intellectual/developmental disability.
  • Identify the indicators that a person may have an intellectual/developmental disability.
  • Identify the procedures an officer should follow to ensure the safety and calmness of an individual that has an intellectual/developmental disability.
  • Demonstrate communication techniques required to effectively interact with a person who has an intellectual/developmental disability.
  • Explain the resources available to assist an officer encountering a person with an intellectual/developmental disability.
  • Describe the procedures an officer uses to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act when encountering a person with an Intellectual, Developmental, or P hysical disability.
  • Demonstrate the procedures that an officer should/may employ when encountering an individual with a physical disability.  
  • Demonstrate the procedures that an officer should/may employ when encountering an individual with a mental illness.

A statewide training curriculum incorporating the adopted training objectives will be available for use by the end of the calendar year.  The Inclusion Commission is also working with disability organizations around the state to identify individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who can assist the academies in the delivery of the training program.  The Inclusion Commission strongly believes that the participation of self-advocates as trainers and teachers will ensure that the training is both effective and meaningful for the recruits.   Adoption of the training objectives is an important first step to address officer safety when interacting with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to improve recruits' ability to protect and serve these individuals when they will come in contact with them in communities throughout the State. 


"The formation of this Commission will allow public safety personnel to fully comprehend the needs of individuals with IDD and to ensure all emergency responders are fully prepared to respond to situations," said Colonel Marcus Brown, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police. "For decades, thousands of Maryland police officers have supported the efforts of the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Special Olympics Maryland, helping to provide year-round sports training and other opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  The Commission will be an enhancement to law enforcement's mission to serve and protect all citizens of Maryland."



 Media Contacts:

Andrea Harrison

Maryland Department of Disabilities



Elena Russo

Maryland State Police