▶️ Bend officer’s native language an invaluable tool during COVID

By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

Officer Camille Christensen with the Bend Police Department is using her skills in American sign language to keep the community informed.

“One of my passions is sign language first of all,” Christensen said. “Because it was my primary language. But also just that communication and the connection with the deaf community.”

Christensen volunteers to translate virtual meetings for the Central Oregon Emergency Information Network. She hopes to keep the deaf community informed during the pandemic.

“They really kind of are behind the ball with emergency notifications and whatnot,” Christensen said. “So it was really exciting for me to be able to participate in that.”

Christensen grew up with two deaf parents. Her mom Margi and her dad Robert inspired her to do what she can.

“Growing up, I had kind of seen the disadvantage of the lack of communication between the deaf community and law enforcement,” said Christensen. “You know police officers don’t like to be touched, and one of the main attention things that deaf people do is tap you on the shoulder. So it’s important to kind of educate both communities, like hey this is what to expect.”

Christensen even incorporated signing into Bend Police’s virtual storytime. In just two weeks, a video of her signing a children’s book has been seen by over 220,000 people.

Christensen wants the hearing impaired to receive information immediately. Without breaking news available in sign language, the deaf community may see news hours or days later.

“They have to rely on old information, and so for me, having that accessible for deaf people is really important,” Christensen said.

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