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Speech pathology and education faculty members awarded grant to train self-advocate educators for law enforcement

| By Stephanie Weaver Lisa Schoenbrodt, Ph.D., chair of speech-language and hearing sciences, and Leah Saal, Ph.D., assistant professor of literacy, have been awarded a $43,961, two-year grant from the Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD) for their innovative project, “Learning to Lead: Training Self-Advocate Educators for Law Enforcement.”

Under this award, Loyola—in collaboration with Municipal Police Academy - Prince George’s Community College and Best Buddies Maryland—will pilot a replicable and sustainable model to recruit, hire, train, and supervise individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (ID/DD). These individuals will serve as educators alongside law enforcement and other public entities throughout the State of Maryland.

"Police officers interact with a variety of individuals every day, including those with a wide variety of communication challenges," said Schoenbrodt. "The LEAD program provides an innovative way for those individuals to advocate for themselves and for law enforcement to receive proper training directly from citizens with disabilities."

The program will create strategic partnerships across three areas including law enforcement departments, academic institutions, and community based advocacy organizations. The three components will work together at a local level to recruit, equip, support, and evaluate leaders as trainers.

“The Prince George’s Community College, Public Safety and Security Institute, Municipal Police Academy is excited to work with Loyola University as we enhance our training for new police recruits,” said Percel Alston, director of Public Safety and Security Institute at the Municipal Police Academy. “Incorporating citizens with disabilities into our class is innovative and cutting edge. We are confident that this collaborative training will be a model for all Police Academies in Maryland.”

Two initial training cycles (fall 2018 and spring 2019), containing four-to-five Self-Advocate Educator trainees will be conducted. The cycles will consist of four, two-hour training sessions to be held at Loyola’s campus in Columbia. The sessions will include role-playing of the advocacy and scenario-based training tasks. Sessions will be video-taped and reviewed with the trainer-trainee dyad to encourage self-evaluation and performance improvement both in skillset training and law enforcement training sessions.

The LEAD Program will be informed by the Ethan Saylor Alliance Steering Committee, which will meet bi-monthly to offer critical feedback on program design, implementation and evaluation.
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