Coffee with a Cop with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community helps build relationships
By Madison Pitsch, KOLN
Original article HERE
Communication is key for law enforcement in traumatic situations. The same goes for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community. For those in the Deaf community, communicating with law enforcement can be difficult and overwhelming. Now both groups are working to change that.
“This opportunity is huge for the deaf community to sit down and talk to them about their feelings,” said Vicki Steinhauer-Campbell.
She and her husband are both deaf and have two daughters, who are also deaf or hard of hearing. Steinhauer-Campbell said she never had a chance to interact with law enforcement like this when she was younger. Now she and her daughters get a chance to talk with police via sign language interpreters.
“My daughter, my youngest one whose deaf, I want to tell her that it’s okay, you’re going to feel safe and to realize what the police department’s responsibility is,” said Steinhauer-Campbell.
For the Deaf Community in Lincoln, it’s a chance to build a relationship with law enforcement that is desperately needed to close that communication gap.
“How can we enhance this communication gap?” said Carly Weyers, the Behavioral Health Coordinator with the Nebraska Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing. “We haven’t come up with the perfect solution because, like I said, the cultures can conflict and there’s that lack of communication.”
This coffee meeting is just one way to work on that gap. Chief of Police, Jeff Bliemeister wants that relationship to form before the cop cars are called out to a situation.
“We’re getting to know each other before tragedy strikes, and that is a core mission of the Lincoln Police Department,” said Bliemeister. This is the Coffee with a Cop event for the Deaf community.
For many in the Deaf community, interaction with law enforcement can be difficult and frustrating.
“Usually they’re thinking, ‘I don’t know, how do I communicate with this person?” said Weyers.
Steinhauer-Campbell is excited for her daughters, and for the future of the Deaf community in Lincoln.
“Any emergency situation that comes up, if I’m pulled over, I like to build that relationship and see how we can work together.”