Fostering better communication between the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community and the Police

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Meg in her officer's uniform

For many people, engaging with a member of the police department can be a stressful experience, particularly if it is an unplanned encounter, such as being stopped while driving or after a traffic accident. People may be uncomfortable because they do not understand police procedures and are uncertain about what is going to happen. This can be further complicated for those who are deaf or hard of hearing because of communication challenges which make information exchange more difficult. Fairfax County Police Officers (like most of the police in the greater DC area) regularly engage with a very wide variety of people – those who speak languages from all over the world; those with a broad array of mental, emotional, and physical challenges; and sometimes those with both language and other challenges.

In this presentation, PFC Megan Hawkins will discuss the basic training Fairfax County Police Officers receive regarding engaging with people when communication issues may be a challenge. She will discuss standard police procedures for traffic stops and accidents, including recommendations for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Better understanding of police procedures and expectations can help make such interactions less uncomfortable.

Additionally, we hope the community can offer suggestions that might help the police department better understand how to best communicate with people who have hearing challenges. We plan to leave plenty of time for Q&A. Please join us for this important discussion.

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Bio: Officer Meg Hawkins is a 20-year veteran in law enforcement with Fairfax County. While the majority of her career has been dedicated to patrol duties, Meg has also assumed roles in public affairs and crime prevention. However, her true calling lies in community outreach and engagement, a passion she fervently pursues in her current capacity as the Community Outreach Officer for the Sully District Station.

Meg holds the title of a Certified Crime Prevention Specialist, accredited by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, and she is also a Certified Law Enforcement Crime Prevention through Environmental Design Practitioner (LE-CPTED).

Meg's expertise extends to her role as the agency's lead instructor for the "Hidden in Plain Sight (HIPS)" program. This interactive initiative aims to educate adults on recognizing signs of risky behavior in teens and young adults.

Her dedication to community outreach has not gone unnoticed. In 2022, Meg received three "Faithful Servants" awards from the Communities of Trust Committee, honoring her exceptional commitment and hard work in serving the community.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Meg is happily married to a retired combat veteran who currently serves as a firefighter in Fairfax County.



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November 16, 2023 7:00 pm
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