Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun - January 9, 2014
It sounds like the Governor-appointed commission to study how police in Maryland interact with people who have intellectual disabilities is on the right track. The commission was set up in response to the death of Ethan Saylor, a man with Down syndrome who died in an encounter with police, in a movie theater, that escalated unnecessarily. The commission seems to have mapped out a more ambitious mission for itself, which will extend beyond just better police training.
I still would like to know more about the role of Mr. Saylor’s aide in the incident. A few reports earlier on suggested that she tried to tell the police how to deal with Saylor, but was ignored. If that’s the case, then I hope part of the police training includes listening to the individuals with disabilities and people who are with them. I also hope that anguish over this terrible incident doesn’t lead to the kind of caution and protectiveness that would end up unintentionally reducing freedom and integration. Hopefully, enough people with disabilities will attend the “listening sessions” to ensure that the outcomes are real progress, not just narrowly-defined safety.