Back in September, the Oklahoma City shooting involving the murder of a deaf man at the hand of law enforcement sparked a discussion on how law enforcement can communicate with deaf people.
Oklahoma City Police approached thirty-five-year-old Magdiel Sanchez after a hit and run. They suspected the man may be involved with the incident. At the time, Sanchez had a two-foot pipe in his hand. Verbal orders were given to put the pipe down. After the man did not obey he was then shot and killed by the police. Why did he not obey? Sanchez was deaf.
The story of Magdiel Sanchez and his fateful encounter with the OKC Police Department has made its way over to South Carolina where agencies from across the state came to Lexington Police Department for Deaf Sensitivity Training. Law enforcement and emergency operation officers went through training to learn better ways to communicate with people that are deaf. Some of the training included sign language lessons, learning how to talk to deaf people and discussions based on situation.
Fred Greenspan, president of Deaf Sensitivity Training Seminar says, "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." (source linked in title)
This Deaf Sensitivity Training seems to be helping officers understand how to better handle situations involving deaf citizens. Heather Miller, Horry County Investigator, says she learned being patient is important.
"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," Miller explains. (Source linked in title)
Fred Greenspan wants police departments to make the effort to prevent future situations like the one in Oklahoma City from happening again.
He says, "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."