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Utah officer uses sign language to work with the deaf community

Local News

WEST VALLEY CITY, UTAH (News4Utah)  “So, in the police chase there was two of us. I was the number two car so I called the pursuit. The number one car just pays attention to the car – making sure nothing is happening – nothing to report. Stays with the car.” “Over the radio they said – I think they’re shooting at us. We couldn’t confirm that cause we couldn’t get close enough until they stopped.” “When they pulled over – when they stopped. We saw the holes in the back of the car. So, we knew for sure they were shooting at us.”  

That is how Officer Amanda Zeller described a high-speed chase she helped bring to an end last year in Salt Lake Valley.

While she says it was one of the most exciting times she’s experienced in law enforcement – she says her real satisfaction from police work comes from serving and protecting. Here’s this week’s Behind the Badge report. 

“Listen. Right now I need to figure out what is going on with the car. OK.” Officer Zeller checks the license and registration of a car.  It’s just part of her job at West Valley City P-D. The other part of her job right now – working with the Crisis Intervention Team. And dealing with people with mental health issues. “You kind of have to understand what is going on in their head. 38 Their reality is definitely altered – most of the time, but what they see, feel and hear is absolutely what they see, feel and hear.” Officer Zeller enjoys her current assignment and all her past assignments in law enforcement. “It’s different every day. It’s exciting, right. You get to do some really cool stuff. You get to chase the bad guys. You get to bring justice to people who have been victims of crime. But It’s literally different every day.

Officer Zeller started her law enforcement career as a corrections officers in Idaho. She also worked for the Rupert, Idaho police department before coming home to Utah. Since joining West Valley she’s been a patrol officer, a field trainer and a crime suppression officer. “We would work C.I.’s and get intel what is going down on the streets and do that – it was fun, really, really fun.”

However, Officer Zeller may be best known in the community for her ability to sign. “I’ve actually been able to work with a lot of people in the community and they’re excited that someone who signs is on the police force.” The ten-year law enforcement veteran has been called on throughout the valley. “I’ve interpreted for Highway for a DUI investigation. I’ve interpreted for Murray for a domestic. Also UPD – for DUI’s. Just depends on the need.” She believes being one of just a few officers who can sign is a blessing and an opportunity. “Kind of trying to bridge that gap – and connect the two communities together – and let them know – don’t be afraid with law enforcement.” And she says no matter who she is dealing with – she says being a police officer truly is about serving and protecting. “We deal with people on their worst day. Whether a car accident. Where they’re in a domestic situation. Whether a loved one died. Were dealing with them on a very horrible day, right. So, to be that person to bring the satisfaction they need or some type of closure or just be there to calm them down or comfort them or make a difference.”  

Officer Zeller learned sign language and worked in education before joining the force. Then 10 years ago she developed otosclerosis – which hardened the bones in her inner ear and caused a massive loss of hearing. So, today, in order to hear properly she has to wear a hearing aid. 

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