Ocean View Police Department Holds Training to Better Serve Deaf - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Ocean View Police Department Holds Training to Better Serve Deaf Community

Posted: Jan 17, 2018 4:56 PM Updated:

OCEAN VIEW, Del.- The Ocean View Police Department is working to better serve the area's deaf community. 

On Wednesday, the department hosted a two-hour training taught by the Delaware Deaf Senior Citizens of Sussex County. In it, officers learned how to best interact and get the attention of deaf individuals during events like traffic stops and house calls.  Chief Kenneth McLaughlin says the training is a valuable tool for his officers, as the area's deaf population is growing.

"If they just have that in the back of their mind--that there could be another reason the person isn't responding to them--that may help them handle the situation more appropriately," he tells WBOC.

The deaf instructors told attendees how to best get the attention of deaf individuals during emergencies without causing panic. Examples ranged from tapping them gently to actually stomping on the floor in order to create a vibration the deaf person can feel. The training also taught participants the six different suggested communication methods: writing, lip reading, gesturing, signing, texting or--if available--using an interpreter.

Organizers said one of their goals for the class was to prevent any tragic miscommunication

"There have been several very unfortunate occurrences where deaf people who cannot hear the warnings that are being given by police officers have been arrested injured or even shot," says Barbara White, Secretary of the Delaware Deaf Senior Citizens of Sussex County.

Wednesday's training was open to the area's firefighters and paramedics as well. Along with the Ocean View officers, Sussex County Sheriff deputies, Sussex County paramedics, and firefighters from the Millville Volunteer Fire Company and the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company attended.

"This isn't just something that is going to be helpful to us," Chief McLaughlin explains. "We work very closely with our local fire departments and Sussex County paramedics so we did open this up to everyone."

A small handbook of sign language commonly used during emergency situations was available to participants. Chief McLaughlin says they intended to host more classes like this in the future. 



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