Robert Ethan Saylor (Photo from Stauffer Funeral Home)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WUSA9) -- Following the death of a young man with Down syndrome while in the custody of police, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has issued an Executive Order to improve training to help law enforcement personnel, paramedics, and other first responders better respond to situations involving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities ("IDD").
O'Malley's executive order creates the Maryland Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The governor Dr. Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman & CEO of Special Olympics, will be Chairman of the Commission.
According to a press release from the governor's office on Tuesday: "Governor O'Malley created the Commission in part as a response to the circumstances surrounding the death of Frederick County resident Ethan Saylor, who happened to have Down syndrome. Dr. Shriver, a Maryland resident, has been designated the Chairman of this commission based on his deep experience in working in communities to build understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people with IDD."
The Commission will evaluate current training and then develop and issue recommendations about statewide training standards that Maryland should adopt. The governor says state and local officials, disability advocates, and other stakeholders will be part of the Commission.
"Mr. Saylor's death is tragic. I join the multitude of people in Maryland and across the country who mourn this loss of life and who seek ways to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again," said Governor O'Malley in a statement on Tuesday. "As a State, we know that there is still progress to be made to ensure that the dignity of every individual is protected."
The Frederick County Sheriff's Office and a Frederick County grand jury have investigated Saylor's death. Now, the United States Department of Justice is investigating the incident. The Commission's deadline for submitting an initial report addressing Maryland's law enforcement guidelines and statewide training standards is January 9, 2014, which would have been Saylor's 27th birthday.
Ethan Saylor's mother, Patti Saylor, released the following statement: "Our family commends Governor O'Malley and his administration for listening to our call for action by establishing this important Commission. The Commission is one piece toward ensuring what happened to my son, Ethan, never happens to a member of the disability community again. Ethan deserved to be a welcomed member of our community, as do all people with IDD. I look forward to working with Dr. Shriver and the Commission as they move forward in their vital work. "
See the executive order here: http://www.governor.maryland.gov/documents/saylorexecutiveorder.pdf