Self-advocates will take a role in training police on interacting with people who have developmental disabilities under a first-of-its-kind law.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed the law Tuesday establishing the Ethan Saylor Alliance for Self-Advocates as Educators.

The new effort, which will operate out of the state’s Department of Disabilities, will bring together people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to teach law enforcement officers about the unique needs of this population.

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The legislation is named for Robert Ethan Saylor, a 26-year-old with Down syndrome who died at the hands of law enforcement in 2013 after being restrained by three off-duty sheriff’s deputies when he refused to leave a Frederick, Md. movie theater. Saylor’s death garnered national headlines and sparked calls for better police training.

The new law takes effect July 1. Advocates say they hope other states will enact similar legislation.

“Self-advocates have a voice and we need to listen to them. It’s their life,” Saylor’s mother, Patti Saylor, told WUSA.

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