Jefferson City, Mo
Posted: Thursday, Feb 08, 2007 - 03:16:34 pm CST
Sheriff hears deaf concern
By Jeff Haldiman -
Sheriff Greg White holds up his Blackberry with a message that "this test work real well." He unveiled a service today at the Cole County Sheriff's Department to enable the deaf or hearing impaired to contact the department in emergency situations. (Julie Smith/News Tribune photo)
People who are deaf or are hard of hearing can have trouble communicating with law enforcement when they need assistance.
With that in mind, the Cole County Sheriff's Department has started a way for hearing-impaired citizens to contact the department more easily.
An e-mail address,
, will allow deaf and hard of hearing individuals to send e-mails via their cellular service. It will be monitored constantly by several computers in the sheriff's office. The address stands for the Law Enforcement Emergency Text service.
“You can't text message 9-1-1 or the *55 number with the Missouri Highway Patrol,” said Sheriff Greg White. “So, if a person has Internet capable cellular service, they should be able to get us a message.”
White said there is very little lag time between sending the message and receiving the message at his office. Should the department get communication from areas outside Cole County, officers there will pass it on to the appropriate agency.
Those who work with the deaf say this service may be a first of its kind to be offered.
“I've never seen a law enforcement agency reach out to the deaf community like this service does,” said Nick Dignan, Associate Pastor of Bible Baptist Church, whose parents and grandparents are deaf.
“I told my dad ... about this and he signed to me ‘Amazing,'” Dignan said.
Officials with the Missouri Information Analysis Center, based out of the State Emergency Management Agency, also are looking at what the new service can do.
The center, which was set up as part of the homeland security efforts following 9-11, takes crime data and gives it back to law enforcement agencies across the state in useable forms.
White said the service is costing almost nothing to taxpayers. His office worked with Cole County Information Services Director Ted Suess to get the program up and running.
“This is not a total solution, it is a beginning,” said White.
LINK: News Tribune Article