Ethan Saylor, the young man with Down syndrome who died during his 2013 arrest by three off-duty Frederick County sheriff’s deputies, has become a national symbol for how law enforcement can mishandle developmentally disabled people.

Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, named this week’s Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on improving law enforcement interactions with developmentally disabled and mentally ill individuals “Ethan’s Hearing.”

In doing so, Durbin made the Saylor case the single illustrative warning of what can happen when law enforcement fails its responsibilities to the disabled and mentally ill community.

“In recent years, law enforcement have been forced to shoulder a new challenge due to inadequate mental health and social services. Police officers, many times, have become the first responders for disabled individuals in crisis,” Durbin said at the outset of the hearing. “It's incumbent on Congress and the executive branch to help local and state law enforcement shoulder this expanded role and develop practices that protect officers, disabled individuals and the public.”

We’re glad Ethan’s death has become a rallying cry for better police training and more sensitive treatment of disabled individuals in crisis across the country. But our sheriff’s office is in an uncomfortable and particularly harsh spotlight. Having Frederick County’s name attached to that national discussion is embarrassing.

If Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins has any discomfort about Capitol Hill hearings that in large part dealt with the actions of officers under his command, he’s keeping it well hidden.

“Anything that comes down in the future, we are going to get out in front of it,” Jenkins said of training that could be mandated by either the state or federal government.

So far, the agency has been a long way from getting in front of issues stemming from Saylor’s death. After Jenkins was approached in summer 2013 by Mount St. Mary’s University about training for officers to improve communication with those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, it wasn’t until six months later, a full year after Saylor’s death, that deputies began taking the four-hour course as part of their yearly in-service training. If Jenkins has proactively sought out other opportunities to improve police interactions, we haven’t heard about it.

Jenkins didn’t see the hearing, he told our reporter Danielle Gaines, who covered the discussion from Capitol Hill. He should have, simply because it was the actions of his officers being discussed — and because some good ideas were presented that are worth considering here in Frederick County. Jenkins would have heard about crisis intervention training — CIT — that has been adopted by about 2,800 police agencies across the country, including our neighbors, Montgomery County.

CIT includes 40 hours of training and focuses on de-escalating tense situations across the board. According to Gaines’ story, Denise E. O'Donnell, director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the Justice Department, called CIT programs the “linchpin” of effective efforts to help improve responses nationwide to mentally ill individuals.

We’d urge Jenkins to investigate adopting this program. While it’s too detailed to outline thoroughly here, the success attested to it at the Senate hearing by Sgt. A.D. Paul, of the Plano Police Department in Texas, is compelling. His agency has experienced a 24 percent reduction in “use of force” reports since the program was started in 2008.

Jenkins has an opportunity here to lead reforms in local policing. This doesn’t have to be an acknowledgment of failure or fault; there’s no downside to wanting an exceptionally well-trained body of deputies. But when those mandates come down — and they will — wouldn’t it better to be among those testifying on Capitol Hill telling Senator Durbin the requirements are unnecessary in Frederick County, because we’ve already implemented them, and more? Wouldn’t that be better than being cited as a hallmark of policing failure?

(43) comments

pins76

Chuck needs to go along with Emperor Young.

Wigwam

dcdoc57 said: "The off-duty deputies working as security for the theater became active sheriff deputies when they exercised their powers of arrest." This is the point people are overlooking. There seems to be a national trend in the use of excessive force by law enforcement personnel in recent years, which is indictative of poor leadership and training and a changing mindset in the newer generation of officers/deputies. The majority of law enforcement officers are less than 40 year of age -- after 20 years of service, they can retire with full pensions, which means the generation of "peace officers" from their fathers' and grandfathers' era (ages 50 and up) are no longer working in the field and serving as mentors. Military tactics and equipment (given to them free by our federal government) are being used by local law enforcement agencies against citizens -- this all started when Los Angeles developed a SWAT team in 1967 (they originally created the term, "Special Weapons And Tactics"). SWAT teams are being used inappropriately by law enforcement. All sheriffs and police chiefs across the country should refuse to accept and use military equipment against the people, and terms like "war on drugs" should not be used since it creates a mindset that law enforcement is at war with segments of American society. SWAT tactics like "flash-bang no knock warrants" should not have been used to serve search warrants, as was done in the apartment home of Daniel Vail and his mother.

Chuck Jenkins mistakes are (1) refusing to acknowledge that excessive force was used against Ethan Saylor and (2) refusing to require additional training for his deputies to prevent more unnecessary deaths. His other mistake is defending the "flash-bang" technique while serving the “no-knock warrant" to issue a search warrant in Daniel Vail's home (the middle-of-the-night warrant service was unnecessary and led to his death, plus his tramatized mother, who had to witness his death, could have easily been caught in the cross-fire). Futhermore, the recent arrests for criminal activity by some deputies indicates that problems with hiring, training and evaluating performance exist within the sheriff's office. Plus, any deputy or police officer who uses a service firearm in the line of duty which results in death should be re-evaluated for fitness to serve (Deputy First Class Charles Zang has shot and killed two citizens while on duty, Charles Nobel Sines in 2005 and Daniel Vail in 2013) -- most police officers retire at the end of a 20- or 25-year career without ever having fired a weapon other than at the practice range.

Surveys of police officers found that police brutality, along with sleeping on duty, was viewed as one of the most common and least likely to be reported forms of police deviance other than corruption. There is evidence that courts cannot or choose not to see systemic patterns in police brutality. Other factors that have been cited as encouraging police brutality include institutionalized systems of police training, management, and culture; a criminal-justice system that discourages prosecutors from pursuing police misconduct vigorously; a political system that responds more readily to police than to the residents of inner-city and minority communities; and a racist political culture that fears crime and values tough policing more than it values due process for all its citizens. It is believed that without substantial social change, the control of police deviance is improbable at best.

Cause of police brutality and excessive force:

As was the case with Prohibition during the 1920s and 1930s, the "War on Drugs" initiated by President Nixon in 1969 has been marked by increased police misconduct. Critics contend that a "holy war" mentality has helped to nurture a "new militarized style of policing" where "confrontation has replaced investigation."

Numerous human rights observers have raised concerns about increased police brutality in the U.S. in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. An extensive report prepared for the United Nations Human Rights Committee, tabled in 2006, states that, in the U.S., the "War on Terror" has "created a generalized climate of impunity for law enforcement officers and contributed to the erosion of what few accountability mechanisms exist for civilian control over law enforcement agencies. As a result, police brutality and abuse persist unabated and undeterred across the country."

Studies have shown that most police brutality goes unreported. In the United States, investigation of cases of police brutality has often been left to internal police commissions and/or district attorneys (DAs). Internal police commissions have often been criticized for a lack of accountability and for bias favoring officers, as they frequently declare upon review that the officer(s) acted within the department's rules or according to their training. The ability of district attorneys to investigate police brutality has also been called into question, as DAs depend on help from police departments to bring cases to trial.

Laws intended to protect against police abuse of authority include the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution -- it protects against unreasonable searches and seizures; the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which includes the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses; the Civil Rights Act of 1871; and the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Civil Rights Act has evolved into a key U.S. law in brutality cases.

Most civil actions against police officers for misconduct are filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. However, it is difficult to succeed in § 1983 claims against police officers, and the successes in § 1983 claims do not necessarily result in changes in police practices. Further, judicially imposed barriers limit the value of remedies under § 1983. One barrier is the doctrine of immunity that protects individual police officers from lawsuits -- defendant officers are usually indemnified by the municipalities or unions if an alleged misconduct is within the line of duty. Therefore, there is no real incentive for police officers to change their practices to ensure that individual rights are protected. In Guardians, the Commission argued that § 1983 claims have not been effective in deterring police misconduct and without much change in police practices, § 1983 continues to be ineffective in deterring police misconduct.

Much of this difficulty in combating police brutality has been attributed to the overwhelming power of the stories mainstream American culture tells about the encounters leading to police violence.

Extra Ignored

Wisconsin passed a law requiring instances of death in the presence of law enforcement be independently investigated. It's time for the same law in Maryland. Make sure the Maryland law includes deaths in the presence of off-duty law enforcement custody.

For nearly 10 years, Michael Bell has waged a campaign for greater accountability when police use lethal force.

He has spent more than $1 million on billboards, newspaper advertisements and a website, all of them asking some variation of this question: When police kill, should they judge themselves?

Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday answered with a resounding "no," signing into law a bill that requires outside investigation when people die in police custody...

http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/gov-scott-walker-expected-to-sign-police-custody-bill-b99253819z1-256342301.html

Driver8

Jenkins' crisis response plan:

1 OK so this is our story right?
2 Circle the wagons
3 Blame the victim
4 Say "medical emergency", don't say "homicide" or "asphyxiate" like the coroner did
5 Say "escorting him from the theater", don't say "dragging the poor helpless guy screaming for his mommy" like the witnesses did
6 Don't mention "positional asphyxia"
7 Say "we're out front on this", don't say "won't this thing EVER go away?"
8 Repeat over and over "my guys did nothing wrong"

Jenkins has consistently chosen stonewalling and cronyism over truth and impartiality. And this is just one of the tragic stories he's created.

Time for a change.

infrederick

We have the opportunity to assign responsibility where it belongs and VOTE JENKINS OUT for being incompetent.

Thinkbig

To address why it took a year, all of the training has to be approved by the states regulating body. Not only that but a curriculum needs to be created. Also in-service training occurs at certain times of the year. In the real world this takes time. I suppose in your world none of this really matters.

Extra Ignored

Yes I see a lot of time was spent on training; 240 minutes in 2011 and 90 minutes in 2013.

Many professions require continuing education units for relicensure. Maybe that's the problem right there. We need an independent agency licensing law enforcement personnel.

friedhard

Vote Jenkins out. He is an incompetent embarrassment. Grubb is more experienced and will be a better Sheriff.

Thinkbig

We are not talking about rookies here. These were longtime veterans who made the decisions that they did. They have to account for them. This is not a training issue. Decisions were made that had unforeseen and unfortunate consequences. To say that anybody could have foreseen this is absurd let alone implementing specific training for the specific scenario. It is very tragic.

Extra Ignored

Hasn't the American with Disability Acts required that your agency complete a self-evaluation and write a plan to accommodate these unforeseen circumstances since 1992?

Example: A department modifies the procedures for giving Miranda warnings when arresting an individual who has mental retardation. Law enforcement personnel use simple words and ask the individual to repeat each phrase of the warnings in her or his own words. The personnel also check for understanding, by asking the individual such questions as what a lawyer is and how a lawyer might help the individual, or asking the individual for an example of what a right is. Using simple language or pictures and symbols, speaking slowly and clearly, and asking concrete questions, are all ways to communicate with individuals who have mental retardation.

http://www.ada.gov/q%26a_law.pdf


A Police Officers Guide by the ARC of the US
http://www.ncdsv.org/images/TheARC_PoliceOfficersGuideContactPeopleMR.pdf

Driver8

So there was no way to foresee that placing a person with his body type on his stomach, cuffed behind his back may result in death?

That's not what every other law enforcement agency in the world says. They educate and train their officers on positional asphyxia and how to avoid it.

Jenkins' guys, not so much.

Thinkbig

The deputies have always gotten the training recommended by the state. The only training eliminated where the out-of-state junkets

Extra Ignored

Ms Bailey didn't you say the only training the deputies had received was about mental illness in 2011. So in 2012 did they receive no training at all?

Tue Jul 16, 2013.

In 2011, they attended a four-hour block of training called Mental Health 101, which did not focus on Down syndrome specifically but highlighted the differences between the developmentally disabled and those suffering from mental illness.

This year deputies will attend a 90-minute training session dealing with autism, Bailey said.

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/news/local/local/article_ca1c4f7a-a9c6-57cd-920d-36eacee0bb3e.html

Thinkbig

The FNP should at least give Sheriff Jenkins a commission for newspaper sales since they cynically and shamefully use him to sell their papers at least two or three times a week. They must be in pretty rough shape.

Extra Ignored

So you want the FNP to quit publishing the chest thumping press releases the sheriff sends to the FNP?

I have no problem with that.

That crime has increased in Frederick County and decreased in Montgomery County which has a more diverse population doesn't support Sheriff Chuck Jenkins insistence that more immigration enforcement is needed. Maybe Sheriff Chuck Jenkins just has no clue.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, along with State’s Attorney John McCarthy and County Council President Craig Rice, announced today that total crime for 2013 in Montgomery County decreased 9 percent from 2012 – part of a seven-year trend that totaled a 33 percent reduction in serious crime and a 26 percent decrease in all crimes.

http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/News/press/PR_details.asp?PrID=13427

Thinkbig

For the record, Sheriff Jenkins opposed secondary employment as security guards for this very reason. His hands were tied by the police union.

Boyce Rensberger

His hand were not tied when he decided to eliminate some training for deputies. And they were not tied in the aftermath of this killing when it became clear that his deputies were clueless about how to handle the mentally disabled.

Extra Ignored

Sheriff Chuck Jenkins only gave the training money back to the county to please Blaine Young. It was Blaine Young's fault.

brl17shots

Jenkins this, Jenkins that. At the time of the Saylor incident the Sheriff could have been Wyatt Earp, Barney Fife, or anyone in between and the outcome would have been the same. The Sheriff had no bearing on how the security guards handled the situation.

etown9799

Sorry, but the Sheriff is the man in charge, the one ultimately responsible for his deputies and employees conduct. While he can't act for them, he also cut training funds, he also blindly supported them, and has conducted investigations in manners that look like favoritism or cover-ups, making it very hard to trust in his leadership.

brl17shots

They weren't his employees at the time of the incident. Just because you are a law enforcement official does not make you so 24/7. Have you ever heard of "off duty?"
Secondly, there isn't a Sheriff around that wouldn't back his deputies, blindly or otherwise. Would you rather work for someone who supports you unconditionally or someone who would stand by and let you fall on a sword?

Extra Ignored

Then they should have called in real deputies who were on duty at the time who might realize that it was case of civil trespassing not criminal trespassing.

Sally Eck of Baltimore County complains that her neighbor and his party guests use her private road, without permission, to access his property, even though the neighbor has access to his home from a public road. Ms. Eck has posted signs stating, "Private Drive. Do Not Enter," but the signs are ignored. County personnel "could only suggest that he is trespassing."

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2000-10-22/business/0010200021_1_trespass-whiteheads-property

Extra Ignored

If Sheriff Chuck Jenkins wants to fall on the sword for his deputies then so be it.

Vote for Keven Grubb on June 24

Putting Citizens First

Boyce Rensberger

The deputies were trained (or, more accurately, not trained) by the program put in place by Jenkins. It was not until a year after the incident that he had some of his deputies trained. And even then, it was only *after* experts at Mount Saint Mary's University went to Jenkins and offered the training.

chesapeakecountry

They have common sense training now?

newtofc

The Ethan Saylor debacle, the 287(g) failure, the failure to see the drug crisis coming in his own home town especially, the deaths in the jail, his Joe Arpaio, "Bull" Connor, approach to the Hispanic population, make Chuck Jenkins a bad choice for Sheriff as he has proven. But unfortunately, for some perverse reason, these are the very things that make him popular with a large percentage of Frederick County citizens. Help change the image of Frederick County, get out and vote for Grubb.

Boyce Rensberger

You may be newtofc, but you clearly understand the sad performance of our sheriff. His incompetence is becoming a national disgrace.

And, yes, if you are a Republican, vote for Kevin Grubb. I had breakfast with him the other day, and concluded that he would be an excellent replacement for Jenkins.

If you are a Democrat, vote for Karl Bickel on June 24, even though he has no primary opponent. Then vote for him again in November.

chesapeakecountry

The Ethan Saylor tragedy did not involve personal who were working for sheriff Jenkins. These individuals were working for the movie theater and following directions/orders of that employer. They also were not wearing uniforms or representing the Sheriff's department in any way during this event. If I am employed by the Frederick News-Post and then take a second job at the Hagerstown newspaper is the News-Post responsible for what occurs while I'm working at this other paper? I am all in favor of proper training and this incident was poorly handled by ALL individuals involved but to put the onus on Sheriff Jenkins is more than a stretch.

catcher

It's no stretch at all. Sheriff Jenkins embraced this disaster when he placed the deputies under the protection of the law, and affirmed that they'd been acting as deputies when they attempted to arrest Ethan Saylor. The sheriff's first instinct was to provide shelter for the deputies, and so he has to live with the consequences.

dcdoc57

As in the medical profession, we continue to be physicians, nurses and paramedics when we respond as such even when "off duty." The off duty deputies working as security for the theater became active sheriff deputies when they exercised their powers of arrest. So in lies the dilemma of officers working for secondary employers. While they clearly have the right to employment outside their county job, it does seem to create a host of problems. Not the least of which is cost to taxpayers when something like this happens.

etown9799

Kind of doubt the movie theater wanted the officers to escalate and take down Saylor. I doubt the manager was sitting there telling the officers to use whatever force necessary to remove him. And when you're a sworn public servant, everything you do can be under scrutiny...like an officer getting arrested for assulating his girlfriend, or an officer getting arrested for assaulting a drunk in Hagerstown, or a FCPS employee being accused of serving beer at a "school function" (that one was debatable), or a public official swearing at a teen ref because he didn't like a call. No matter what you're in the public eye, if you don't like it, then don't work in that capacity.

Boyce Rensberger

Law enforcement officers are automatically "on duty" when they engage in police actions, even as they moonlight for another employer. That's the law.

sodalite3

Chesapeakecountry......A certified law enforcement officer in the State of Maryland is ALWAYS on duty. The right to use deadly force, the right to legally stop a person and hold them as to deny them their freedom of movement and the right to carry a deadly weapon upon their person are just some of the reason why. If you can't understand the law and the rights, privileges AND responsibilities that go with that then you really, really don't know your *** from a hole in the ground!

You have a right to an opinion but when competing in the FC "Ignorance Tournament" you should announce yourself as a contestant. For being blind to reality, being blind to the law and being blind to what happened and its consequences, you are hereby awarded 25 points and promoted to the A League in the FC Tournament of Ignorance. Congratulations...I guess.
[sad]

chesapeakecountry

Obviously cops are not always on duty. They can put on suspension, for example. They can have days off. I'm told they're even allowed to drink when they're off the clock. A police officer traveling through another jurisdiction--as a tourist or what have you--surely is not on duty there unless and until the supervisory authority over police there has authorized him to serve in such a capacity there. But hey, as a citizen I am entitled to make a citizen's arrest so I guess using your logic I am always "on duty" as well.....lol Thanks for playing. [wink]

sodalite3

If they are on suspension they are non-authorized to act as a law enforcement officer. If they are out of their jurisdiction they do not continue under the law of Maryland as to Police powers. Drinking does not do anything but heighten the legal responsibility for due diligence in acting as an authorized Officer of the Law.

Due to your unprecedented use of non-logic and specific objective stupidity in your inane arguments you are awarded another 15 points putting you close to challenger status in the “Tour de Frederick 2014 Ignorance Tournament”. Congratulations….You are doing so much better than anyone though you might. Strive for more extensive ignorance grasshopper! Just remember not everyone can be as ignorant as you…it takes great effort!

vicdavy

Solution, vote for Karl Bickel! 40 years of experience and a contemporary and educated Peace officer.

squibmyer

Who couldn't get enough signatures of support signed in the proper way (showing the intelligence and instruction following capabilities of those who signed as well as those collecting the signatures) the last time he tried to run, so he didn't even turn any in.

Vote Grubb, because if Jenkins wins the primary, the job of Sheriff is his.

dcdoc57

Karl Bickel has an impressive resume, both in academics and work history. His resume suggests significant leadership ability. I look forward to hearing his plan to restore respect and dignity to the FCSO. I can not help but agree with previous comments suggesting FCSO has a tarnished and negative imagine outside the county.

vicdavy

I have gotten to know Karl and he is a genuine and dedicated Peace officer.

Extra Ignored

But we'd have to wait until November to elect Karl.

Kevin Grubb can be elected in June.

squibmyer

Hate to repeat myself, but:

Vote Grubb, because if Jenkins wins the primary, the job of Sheriff is his.

catcher

It is absolutely amazing to me that Sheriff Jenkins couldn't be bothered to watch, much less attend, a congressional hearing that involved the deadly actions of his own deputies.

Dwasserba

The paragraph beginning, "Jenkins didn't see the hearing," should be in bold print. Bad choices.

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