SC Police Departments Participate in Deaf Sensitivity Training

Law enforcement from across the state are looking at ways to better respond during situations involving people who are deaf. It's part of a national discussion following a a police involved shooting in Oklahoma back in September.

Lexington, SC (WLTX) – A police involved shooting in Oklahoma City in September has sparked a national discussion and has made its way to South Carolina on how law enforcement can communicate with people who are deaf.

In September, thirty-five-year-old Magdiel Sanchez was approached by Oklahoma City Police after a hit-and-run. Police believed he may have been involved with the incident. At the time, the man had a two-foot pipe in his hand. After orders from police to put it down, he didn't and ended up being shot and killed by police.
The reason for not dropping the object, he was deaf.

The shooting started a discussion across the nation on how law enforcement and people with loss of hearing can communicate with each other to prevent situations like that from happening again.

Here in South Carolina, agencies from across the state came to the Lexington Police Department for Deaf Sensitivity Training.

President of Deaf Sensitivity Training Seminar, Fred Greenspan, says this should be taken seriously.

"Law enforcement does need this. There's really a very large deaf community among us. Thirty or so percent are hard of hearing and or deaf," explained Greenspan.

Law enforcement and emergency operation officers went through training to learn better ways to communicate with those that have hearing loss.

Some of this included learning sign language, situational discussions, and learning tips on how to talk with someone that is deaf.

"It puts us in a place of how they may feel. It’s using one question at a time or being able to not come after them with a bunch of things. Give them the time,” said Machelle Thomas with the City of Spartanburg Police Department.

Horry County Investigator Heather Miller says she learned being patient is key for law enforcement.

"Don't jump the gun as best you can. If the situation is deemed safe and under control, slow down and be patient. Make sure we're communicating our messages to one another accurately and if not, take the necessary measures to ensure that it happens," explained Miller.

Greenspan wants police departments to prevent future situations like the one in Oklahoma City from happening again.

"Try to bring the light here is the problem so they can address that and know about them so they can be aware and attack that issue as it comes along with no problem," said Greenspan.

The Deaf Sensitivity Training Seminar travels across the country to help train other police departments.

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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