Officers train for interactions with deaf, hearing impaired

Published: Aug. 24, 2016 at 10:24 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2016 at 10:41 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Questions as to whether police officers are trained to deal with encounters involving people with disabilities are rising after a deaf man was shot and killed by police last week.

Troopers in Charlotte tried to pull over 29-year-old Daniel Harris for speeding last Thursday. After leading troopers on a seven-mile chase, troopers said he got out of the vehicle and that led to an encounter where a shot was fired. Harris died at the scene.

Related: Vigil held for deaf man shot and killed after chase with trooper

WIS wanted to learn more about how officers are trained to interact with those who are deaf or have hearing impairments.

Several departments, including the Lexington County Sheriff's Department, are taking classes. Trainees are taught to recognize if the individual is deaf as soon as possible, how to try not to shine a light on that person while keeping eye contact, and communicating with patience.

They are also using a new communication tip card that helps the officer and person to communicate better.

"I think it was very useful and he [the instructor] was able to share things that he can do. Deaf individuals are all different, not everybody can read lips, not everybody can speak sign, but he said there is some common things that almost everybody knows that anybody would recognize, like making a motion with your fingers to come over to a person," Bill Galardi with the Lexington Sheriff's Department said.

Employees with the Lexington County Sheriff's department train on this twice a year. Columbia police also say they are training with Bitters as well as the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

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