Md Commission on Inclusion – Ethan Saylor’s Legacy is About Much More than Training

This is one time that I am happy to be proven wrong!  There was a great deal of “spirited debate” about Governor O’Malley’s response to Emma’s petition on Change.org.  Some of us were disappointed that he only committed to one of the two requests: training, but not an independent investigation.  Some thought “training” was meant to placate a grieving family – a political move more than a real solution.  Some even thought training would be dangerous and serve to further stigmatize our loved ones.

The Right Leadership

Tim Shriver

I for one, was more hopeful about the Commission once I heard who was going to be at the helm.  If anyone could take the opportunity and make the best of it – it was Tim Shriver.

Behind the Headlines

As time passed, we, the general public, got a few updates via mainstream media: headlines in the local Frederick News Post told us when the Committee published a report or met with the Mayor.  But, unless you were really tuned in, you didn’t get a sense of what was happening with “the training.”

More Than We Knew

As part of our month-long tribute to Ethan’s legacy, I thought it was important to take a closer look at the details.  Luckily for me, the information is out there, if you’re ready to do some digging, reading, and listening. A good place to start is the slide show that the Commission used during its Listening Tour: the four meetings held around the state at the beginning of the year to gather input from citizens.
Thank you to Alisa Macht from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention

Dedicated to The Mission

What I ended up with is a timeline that starts with Emma’s petition and covers the meetings, events, and reports up to and including the annual report that was published last month.

MARYLAND COMMISSION FOR EFFECTIVE COMMUNITY INCLUSIO OF INDIVIDUALS WITH INTELLECTUAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

Click here, or on the picture above to take a tour through the evidence of just how dedicated the members of this commission are.  You’ll find links to the news articles, meeting minutes, and reports that have been published so far.  If you have the time and you’re interested, you can even listen to the audio recordings of the four “listening tour” meetings that were held throughout the state.  The first person accounts of families who attended are emotional at times and show how important the Commission’s work really is, not just for Ethan, but for the entire community.

Biggest News

After doing some research, I’m fully convinced that this commission (regardless of the intent when it was formed) is an awesome piece of Ethan’s legacy.  Dr. Shriver has made a point to make it bigger than just training for law enforcement and the other members seem truly devoted to that goal.

In the cover letter to the initial report Dr. Shriver lays out his vision of what the commission will accomplish:

While we were, in part, created from a tragedy, the plan emerging from the Commission today honors Ethan Saylor by demonstrating a renewed and strengthened commitment to the ideals of justice, equality, and dignity for all differently-abled citizens of Maryland and their families.

In the latest report, the scope of that vision is still present:

Expanding Inclusion

Sub-committees on these “sectors” have been working hard between the monthly meetings of the full commission.

Already Looking Toward Change on a National Level

Some of us remember the day Patti went to Washington:

Patti Saylor testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights.

The Commission submitted written testimony to that same Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights.  In the cover letter from Mayor O’Malley to Dick Durbin and R. Edward Cruz, he suggests using the Commission’s work as a template for federal changes.

I would like to offer that the Commission is available to work with you and your colleagues in Congress.  A collaborative federal-state approach will ensure that best practices in one state are adopted and replicated in other states across the nation. We look forward to working with you in the months ahead to ensure the dignity of every individual is protected.

Meaningful Change

I’ve heard Patti say, on more than one occasion, that Tim asked her, before the Commission even started, what she was looking for.  She replied that she wanted meaningful change, even though she knew that would take more time than a simple training course for law enforcement.

I’m grateful to all the members of the Commission for their dedication and hard work to that end.

The Big Finish

In the annual report, the Commission recommends that the Ethan Saylor Maryland Center for Self-Advocates as Educators be created and “housed at a university and function as an independent unit of state government.”

If that happens, I think it would be a giant step toward

#JusticeForEthan
*I’m sure that if he could Ethan would say that Dr. Shriver is definitely one of the “good guys.” 

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