A new communications tool, designed to improve communications between the police and the hard of hearing and deaf community during routine law enforcement traffic stops, will soon be implemented in Erie County after being announced at the Town of Amherst Police Training Facility. The project will supply Amherst Police Department patrol supervisors with mobile devices on a 24-hour basis, each device equipped with an app that can be utilized during traffic stops with a person who indicates that they are deaf or hard of hearing.  The app will allow for a real-time sign language interpreter to assist in the communication between the deaf person and the police officer. Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz today joined Commissioner of Central Police Services James Jancewicz, Town of Amherst Police Chief John Askey, Executive Director of Deaf Access Services Pamela Kefi, and Niagara University First Responder Disability Awareness Project Director David Whalen to unveil and demonstrate the app.

“This technology will be a tremendous help to the deaf and hard of hearing community and will lead to better, more productive interactions with law enforcement,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “We will continue to make Erie County a more inclusive community and bridging communication gaps is a good way to do that. I thank the partners who came together to make this project and look forward to its eventual use countywide.”

Commissioner of Central Police Services James Jancewicz said, “This technology is an excellent example of Central Police Services working closely with our partners to provide critical services to improve the safety and welfare of our entire community.”

Erie County Central Police Services has been working with the Amherst Police Department, Deaf Access Services, and the Niagara University First Responder Disability Awareness Program to create and implement the pilot project. The four agencies conducted in-service training on the app for every Town of Amherst police officer this week, followed by implementation of the project throughout the town. The long-term goal is to utilize the technology and best practices developed by the Amherst Police Department throughout the entire county to improve the safety of the deaf community and police officers.