High school student teaches police sign language

High school student teaches police department sign language

MANSFIELD, MA (WJAR/CNN) - A Massachusetts high school student is training a local police department.

She's helping officers communicate in a new way.

Mansfield police are adding a new tool to their tool belts. Sign language.

Their teacher is a young student named Catherine Fitzgerald.

Catherine Fitzgerald, a senior at Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School in South Easton, is teaching the Mansfield Police Department some sign language. (Source: WJAR/CNN)
Catherine Fitzgerald, a senior at Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School in South Easton, is teaching the Mansfield Police Department some sign language. (Source: WJAR/CNN) (Source: WJAR/CNN)

“She approached us with this,” said Lt. Roy Bain, of the Mansfield Police Department. “There’s always been a need for it.”

She teaches and learns at the same facility.

Fitzgerald is a senior at Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School.

“I’m in the criminal justice program and every senior has to do a project as kind of (leaving) their mark on the school,” Fitzgerald said.

In this case it's her community.

During the program, not only has Fitzgerald taught sign language, she also made pocket guides for officers to keep handy.

"I was diagnosed with profound hearing loss from the day I was born,” Fitzgerald said. “No one in my family is like me. It's just me, but I don't really use that as a crutch or anything. It's actually helped me to be able to do things like this."

"The project she's working on is going to go well beyond her." Bain said.

Fitzgerald plans to keep studying criminal justice at Curry College.

"School is you clap your hands twice like this," she said to the officers during the class.

"She'll always have a home here,” Bain said. “What she's shown here is really what any police department would be looking for in an employee."

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