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Traffic Stops For Hearing Impaired Drivers: Practical Tips For Public Safety

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TULSA, Oklahoma - News On 6 anchor and crime reporter Lori Fullbright worked with the hearing impaired community and Tulsa Police Department to produce a video that shows a police car stop from both the officer's and the deaf person's perspective.

It gives practical advice to open the lines of communication and ensure public safety.

Whenever police officers make a traffic stop, they don't know who they are stopping. They are thinking - has this person committed a crime, could they be a prison escapee, do they have a weapon? Are they going to try to hurt me?

That's why they approach every car with caution and are on high alert. The last thing they want to see is someone fidgeting. They don't want to see someone reaching into a glove box or console, however innocent the driver may be.

"You know who I am. You know I'm a police officer. I don't know who you are," said Officer Leland Ashley, Tulsa Police.

When a hearing impaired or deaf person is being pulled over, they too have a set of concerns. They worry they won't be able to let the officer know quickly enough that they have special communication needs - or whether the officer will have the patience to try to communicate with them.

They worry the officer may become aggressive and the stop might become a physical altercation.

"I don't know where or how to interrupt the person and gesture to the fact that I can't hear," said Azael Buperry.

"Be aware that deaf people aren't the best communicators when it comes to English being a second language."

A town hall meeting is taking place Tuesday in Tulsa between emergency service agencies and the deaf/hearing impaired community. It's sponsored by Total Source for Hearing-Loss Access and the Tulsa Police Department.

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