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Rochester Police Work to Improve Communication With Hearing Impaired Residents

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ROCHESTER — Chief Paul Toussaint is pleased to announce that the Rochester Police Department hosted residents from multiple communities to help establish stronger lines of communication between law enforcement and those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Representatives from the Rochester and Dover Police Departments met with deaf and hard of hearing residents, as well as American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters on July 18 in order to ensure that all are better prepared to communicate with one another should they encounter law enforcement during an emergency or other situation.

Led by Community Engagement Officer Kyle Danie, Rochester Police officers learned about tools they can use to communicate with those who are deaf or hearing impaired, like the usefulness of visor cards that those individuals can carry in their cars to communicate during routine traffic stops.

“The most important thing for us is ensuring that members of the deaf and hard of hearing communities are not strangers to us,” Officer Danie said. “While there may be some barriers to communication, there are ways to work around them and it’s much easier when the police department knows those residents and is better prepared to overcome those challenges.”

The event came together following a collaborative effort by the Rochester Police Department and the Deaf Grassroots Movement, which is working to organize similar outreach initiatives with law enforcement agencies throughout New Hampshire.

Officer Danie and the Rochester Police are actively working to set up future sessions with deaf and hard of hearing residents in order to begin a more regular dialogue to build upon the success of last week’s session.

“Just because those who are hearing impaired communicate differently, it doesn’t mean we cannot find common ground, work together and overcome any barriers that we may encounter together,” Chief Toussaint said. “I am proud of the members of our department who participated in this outreach effort, and I’m looking forward to strengthening our lines of communication with our deaf and hard of hearing residents.”

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