Home > Article from newspaper > Sheriff Hears Deaf Concern

Sheriff Hears Deaf Concern

February 8, 2007

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, leetext@colecounty.org, 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.

Nick Dignan uses sign language to tell about the new service to enable the deaf and hearing impaired to contact the Cole County Sheriff’s Department. (Julie Smith/News Tribune photo)

“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.

  1. Sharol Caswell
    April 2, 2007 at 8:26 am

    Great news!! We will see if we can get it in Canada.

  2. Jodi
    April 2, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Hmmmmmmmm after all these years … finally they are LOOKING into a solution…..I remember how hard it was to convince the cops to use a TTY… then a few yrs later visit the police station to ask where their tty was and sadly it was buried under tons of case files !!!! Lets hope that this is the bright light at the end of a very long tunnel that the deaf have traveled through 🙂

  3. David Legue
    April 3, 2007 at 8:22 am

    we sometime our car broke down on Highway I ask people to call CAA likely AAA. People refused to help us to call service. Do something blackberry to Law Office.

  4. Arthur Rendall
    January 22, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    I would very much like to have the parties responsible for this great 911 accessibility for us Hearing Disabled to contact me as we are in the process up her in Canada with RIM to try and do the same.

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