Special police training on how to communicate with people who are deaf and hard of hearing

- This year is the first year the Arizona Commission for Deaf and the Hard of Hearing is teaming up with the Phoenix Police Department on how to respond during tactical situations.

The hands-on initiative asks the question: if police were involved in an tactical situation with someone who was deaf or hard of hearing, what do they do?

With that being said, the program allowed the volunteers of the deaf and hard of hearing community to play the role of the officer in a real life scenario to see it from their perspective.

"There's been some anxiety because I didn't really understand what they did on a daily basis, but after the training that we had today, it really does help understand that more so it relieves some of that," said Emmett Hassen, a member of the Deaf and hard of hearing community.

And in return, the officers were better able to recognize what they need to do if they ever faced such a situation.

"There's a need for greater understanding for citizens to understand how they can better improve communication when they are interacting with the police and for police to better communicate with individuals who are either deaf or hard of hearing whether you're pulled over for a ticket, or some type of citation or even just to file a police report of some sort," said Carmen Green Smith, the Deputy of Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

"It helps us understand if they're having these challenges, if they're struggling to communicate, we're part of that communication. Communication is a two-way street. There are things we can do on our end like being more aware that someone hard of hearing or a deaf person may have that card in their visor that has information being aware of alternative ways of communication as opposed to just talking," said Sergeant David Montoya with the Phoenix Police.

Tips were offered and information was shared, but most importantly, relationships were forged and an understanding was developed so both communities can help each other stay safe.

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