Mohamed Abnoor, a criminal justice major at Northeastern University, is on track to become Boston’s first deaf police officer.
Abanoor has had a passion for understanding criminal justice and policing for several years. However, as he began learning more about policing, he soon found something else that hit close to home: “The Deaf community’s relationship with the police, at large, has always been problematic,” he says.
The group Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf Communities (or HEARD), a nonprofit organization that supports people with a range of disabilities, has counted at least 10 cases in the past five years of police officers using violence against deaf people, including six instances of fatal shootings. Among those was a 2017 case in Oklahoma City during which officers fatally shot a deaf man who was not following their spoken directives. As witnesses to the event explained, he couldn’t understand them.
“Police in general don’t understand that people want to comply, they want to do what they’re being told but can’t understand what’s being said to them,” Abanoor says.
For now, Abanoor is on co-op at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, where he’s reviewing case files of unsolved homicides in the district, identifying sources of leads and potential next steps, then passing that information along to officers, an experience that’s made him more interested in potentially becoming a homicide detective, he says.
As he learns more about the justice system, Abanoor says he continues to find new opportunities to serve his community.
“The criminal justice system is in place to keep societies safe,” he says, “and my passion is around the system getting better, improving what we know is an imperfect system, particularly around race and audism: this idea of discriminating against people because of their hearing status. I know there are improvements that can be made so that the system can work better for everyone, and I want to be a change agent in that process.”
Read the full story on Northeastern News.