Fort Worth P.D. Reaches Out To Deaf Community

By Andrea Lucia, CBS 11 News

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Christopher Ferrell only wanted to communicate with the police officer who pulled him over for speeding. But, when Ferrell didn’t respond to commands, the officer jerked him out of his car and slammed him against its back window.

The officer seemed oblivious to Ferrell’s message – that he was deaf. Ferrell ended up with a broken nose that night in November of 2007 and, later, a $50,000 settlement from the City of Fort Worth.

“We have a lot of problems with the police department not communicating with deaf people,” said Norma Castillo, through an interpreter.

An advocate from the Deaf Action Center, Castillo said the deaf are often intimidated by police.

“They look at them as having discrimination,” she said.

The Fort Worth Police Department is trying to change that perception.

On Saturday, it held its first ever community forum for the deaf and hard of hearing, trying to promote education on each side.

“We know there are areas of improvement,” said Chief Jeffrey Halstead.

Officers are now being taught to read a person’s body language for signs indicating they might not be able to hear.

They’re also learning to use basic sign language during emergencies. Seventeen-year-old Cathy Ayala is happy for the opportunity to learn from police as well, so she knows how to avoid any confusion.

“I think it’s really worth it that we came. I do,” she said, through an interpreter.

  • Cathy Ayala

    She loves to know more as well about Police Department to reaches for Deaf Community.

  • Hemroidious


  • LoCinda Hennerberg

    Someone please tell the newswoman that people who can’t hear are “deaf”; they are not “death”. One is a person who can’t hear; the other one means life has ended. That’s a big difference. It is a common mistake, unfortunately, but does show the person’s ignorance.

  • slater71

    anybody ever notice the abbreviation for the prduction company that does the show “COPS” is F.T.S.P. watch at the end and youll see. FTSP =” F THE STUPID POLICE” !!! COICIDENCE?!

    • falcon7204

      It means “Fox Television Stations Productions.”

  • Shoot First, Ask Questions Later: Police Brutality Against Deaf and Hard of Hearing People « SayWhatClub

    […] know in an official, non-threatening way you need to read their lips or use sign language.   Christopher Ferrell of Fort Worth, TX did just that.  During a routine traffic stop when he was pulled over for […]

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