Open Up! An Education Forum for First Responders and the Disability Community

On November 20, 2017, The Arc Prince George’s County will host Open Up! An Education Forum for First Responders and the Disability Community. As a provider of services to individuals who are intellectually or developmentally disabled, we believe we can learn from each other and, by doing so, together we can prevent needless injury, eliminate stigmas and effectively de-escalate crisis situations involving people with disabilities in our community.

“Our goal for this training is to increase communication between the disability community, law enforcement and first responders,” says Membership & Outreach Coordinator Melonee Clark. “The training will include real-life scenarios to help educate cadets on how to interact with, and support people with disabilities in our community.”

Forum participants will include cadets and their supervisors, police and fire dispatchers, parents, caregivers and individuals with disabilities.

“We really need to be proactive as a county,” says Anthony Ayers, Retired Capitol Heights, MD police chief and Prince George’s County Sherriff Candidate. “We want to host this forum to make sure that our officers leave with more tools in their kit to keep themselves and our residents safe.”

As part of the day, Mr. Ayers will facilitate real-life scenarios and role play between the officers, caregivers and people with disabilities. “Classroom learning is often not enough, it takes role play to understand how to react in a situation,” says Mr. Ayers. “Our officers are making real-time, quick decisions and being exposed to potential scenarios in training will help them make the best choice when they are faced with a situation.”

As part of our commitment to building inclusive communities, this training offers an opportunity for parents and loved ones to have open conversations and answer questions as new law enforcement officers prepare for the scenarios they may encounter after graduation.

“It is important we have dialogue with these officers, and that they have the opportunity to dialogue with us,” says Ms. Clark, who in addition to serving as Membership and Outreach Coordinator at The Arc, is also the parent of a child with special needs. “The more we communicate and learn from each other, the safer we can all be.”

To learn more about our membership or outreach training programs, contact Melonee Clark at