Sign language interpreter at Tampa police press conference causes confusion

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In fact, Chief Dugan was providing a timeline of four shootings and was describing how his agency had received around 5,000 tips before arresting the 24-year-old suspect.

"I was disappointed, confused, upset and really want to know why the city of Tampa's chief of police who is responsible for my safety and the safety of the entire community did not check her out", she said.

Except, according to deaf people and sign language experts, she was talking gibberish.

"I know the deaf mother of one of the victims' of the serial killer, she was standing there".

The department is conducting an internal review to determine "who sent this particular interpreter to the news conference to provide services".

According to Tampa police spokesman Stephen Hegarty, law enforcement officials did not request an interpreter for the news conference, which started around 11 p.m. November 28.

He assumed that someone else at the department called the service it uses for interpreters.

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A spokesperson for TPD says he didn't do his due diligence, and did not question Roberts when she showed up as an ASL interpreter.

Hegarty said she won't face any charges. Police say she can't be charged with anything because what happened is not a crime - it's an ethical violation.

It is the most recent example of an apparently unqualified signer appearing at news conferences. "She was standing right there and the interpreter was signing in a way that was incomprehensible", Bonni said. In September, as Hurricane Irma approached Florida and officials announced a mandatory evacuation, an interpreter in nearby Manatee County began signing words like "pizza", "monster" and "bear", along with other gibberish. However, it quickly became apparent he was in over his head.

"The ASL interpreter is not completely clear on what's being said on here so I can only understand the gratitude of the community", one person wrote.

Official sign language interpreters in Florida (unlike in some other states) do not go through a certification process or and do not need to be approved by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

Florida police have run into the problem of "fake" sign language interpreters before.

The man insisted that he was a bona fide interpreter but that he had suffered a psychotic episode at the time, which caused him to see angels descending into the stadium. "But what is that definition of qualified?"