Deputies Train to Better Understand Intellectual Disabilities

- FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. - Law enforcement members from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office are now in training to help better understand how to handle situations involving people with intellectual disabilities. 

It’s been over a year since Ethan Saylor, a Frederick County man with Down syndrome tragically died at a Frederick movie theater while in the custody of three off duty Sheriff’s deputies.

“Ethan's death will not be forgotten. It will open doors and take us to the next level in civil rights for people with disabilities,” said Ethan’s mom Patti Saylor.

The man’s death has people across the globe looking for changes in training among law enforcement and first responders.

“This is the best way to react to that and we've heard the public outcry. There needs to be training, so our people are going to be trained,” said Sheriff Chuck Jenkins of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office and Mt. St. Mary’s University are working together in that training, to teach members of the department about the signs and symptoms of someone with an Intellectual Disability, how they can interact, while also providing awareness. The training will be complete after seven sessions, and is being taught by two educators that have personal connections to people with disabilities.

“One of the things we say is unless someone's safety is in danger, a community member is in danger, the person with the intellectual disability is in danger, when they’re in that crisis mode, only put hands on as a last resort,” said Dr. Gregory Ochoa, academic dean at the Mt. St. Mary’s University Frederick campus.

Sheriff Jenkins and other deputies say training with that personal connection helps them to better understand how to deal with the emotions a person with a disability may be experiencing. The Sheriff’s Office completed their fourth training class Tuesday.

Patti Saylor said she’s excited about the training and said it’s a good first step, meeting a more immediate need. She said more training and broader training is still necessary.

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