Settlement Agreement | Department of Justice Press Releases
SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION
This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, with the United States Department of Justice (Department) against Citrus County, Florida. The complaint was received by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, under the authority of 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F. The complainant alleges that Citrus County violated title II with respect to the Countys self-evaluation, transition plan, grievance procedures, ADA Coordinator, teletypewriters, interpreters, employment forms, public meetings, emergency preparedness and access to facilities. Specifically, among other things, the complaint alleges that the emergency preparedness plan does not provide for an evacuation procedure that addresses the needs of people with disabilities and that emergency shelters do not allow service animals.
The Citrus County Sheriffs Office is headed by elected officials who oversee the operations of law enforcement, 9-1-1, and emergency preparedness. The Department has drafted a separate Agreement with the Citrus County Board of Commissioners regarding the other aspects of this complaint.
Because the Sheriffs Office receives financial assistance from the Department of Justice, the investigation was also conducted under the authority of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and the Departments implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 42, Subpart G. The Department expanded the scope of the investigation to include the Sheriffs Offices compliance with the following title II requirements:
- to notify applicants, participants, beneficiaries, and other interested persons of their rights and the Sheriffs Offices obligations under title II and the Departments regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 35.106;
- to operate each program, service, or activity so that, when viewed in its entirety, it is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, 28 C.F.R. § 35.150, by:
- delivery of services, programs, or activities in alternate ways, including, for example, redesign of equipment, reassignment of services, assignment of aides, home visits, or other methods of compliance or, if these methods are not effective in making the programs accessible,
- physical changes to buildings (required to have been made by January 26, 1995), in accordance with the Departments title II regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 35.151, and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (Standards), 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, App. A, or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), 41 C.F.R. § 101-19.6, App. A.
- to ensure that communications with applicants, participants, and members of the public with disabilities are as effective as communications with others, including furnishing auxiliary aids and services when necessary, 28 C.F.R. § 35.160;
- where the Sheriffs Office communicates by telephone, to communicate through a text telephone (TTY), or other equally effective telecommunications system, with individuals who have hearing or speech impairments, 28 C.F.R. § 35.161;
- to provide direct access via TTY or computer-to-telephone emergency services, including 9-1-1 services, for persons who use TTYs and computer modems, 28 C.F.R. § 35.162;
- to provide information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence of the Sheriffs Office Special Needs List in the event of an emergency, 28 C.F.R. § 35.163(a);
- to provide signage at all inaccessible entrances to each of its facilities, directing users to an accessible entrance or to information about accessible facilities, 28 C.F.R. § 35.163(b).
The Departments program access review covered the programs, services, and activities that operate in the Citrus County Sheriffs Office and the Emergency Operations Center.
The Department also reviewed the Sheriffs Offices policies and procedures regarding effective communication to persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and emergency management and disaster prevention to evaluate whether persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to utilize these programs.
1. The ADA applies to the Sheriffs Office because it is a public entity as defined by title II. 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1).
2. The Department is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate the complaint in this matter to determine the compliance of the Sheriffs Office with title II of the ADA and the Department's implementing title II regulation, to issue findings, and, where appropriate, to negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized, under 42 U.S.C. section 12133, to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F.
3. The Department is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 42, Subpart G, to investigate the complaint in this matter to determine the Sheriffs Offices compliance with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to issue findings, and, where appropriate to negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized, under 29 U.S.C. § 794 and 28 C.F.R. §§ 42.530, 42.108-110, to suspend or terminate financial assistance to the Sheriffs Office provided by the Department of Justice should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart G or bring a civil suit to enforce the rights of the United States under applicable federal, state, or local law.
4. The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and the Citrus County, Florida, Sheriffs Office.
5. In order to avoid the burdens and expenses of an investigation and possible litigation, the parties enter into this Agreement.
6. In consideration of, and consistent with, the terms of this Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from filing a civil suit in this matter regarding all matters contained within this Agreement, except as provided in the section entitled Implementation and Enforcement.
ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT
7. The Department surveyed the Citrus County Sheriffs Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The EOC receives the 9-1-1 emergency calls for the County. There is a TTY at each station and employees receive training every 6 months on how to operate the TTY. The County was scheduled to obtain Print Track on November 18, 2002, which automatically receives and responds to TTY calls on a computer console.
8. The Department reviewed the Countys Comprehensive Emergency Plan. The Plan includes a Special Needs Registry where disabled residents can choose to sign up to be contacted and evacuated in the event of an emergency.
9. The Sheriffs Office will monitor its incoming 9-1-1 TTY calls to ensure they are answered as quickly and accurately as other calls received.
10. The Sheriffs Office will incorporate correct TTY call-taking procedures into 9-1-1 call takers performance evaluations and will amend its personnel policies to include written disciplinary procedures for call takers who fail to perform TTY call-taking consistent with the training and procedures. The Sheriffs Office will implement and report to the Department its evaluation and procedures within three months of the effective date of this Agreement.
LAW ENFORCEMENT AND EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
11. Within two months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Sheriffs Office will adapt for its own use and implement the Citrus County Sheriffs Offices Policy Statement on Effective Communication with People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing [Attachment A] and distribute to all Sheriff Department Officers the Guide for Law Enforcement Officers When in Contact with People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing [Attachment B].
12. Within two months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Sheriffs Office will contract with one or more local qualified oral/sign language interpreter agencies to ensure that interpreting services will be available to the Sheriffs Office on a priority basis, twenty-four hours per day, seven days a week, or make other appropriate arrangements (such as contracting directly with or hiring qualified interpreters).
13. Within one month of the effective date of this Agreement, the Sheriffs Office will ensure that each sheriff station or substation is equipped with a working TTY to enable persons who are deaf, who are hard of hearing, or who have speech impairments to make outgoing telephone calls.
14. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Sheriffs Office will ensure to the Department that the Special Needs Registry is voluntary and confidential and will not be used for any purpose other than to notify and serve those who have disabilities in the event of an emergency.
15. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Sheriffs Office will implement and report to the Department its written procedures that ensure that at least one emergency shelter has a back-up generator and a way to keep medications refrigerated (such as a refrigerator or a cooler with ice). Such shelter(s) will be made available to persons whose disabilities require access to electricity and refrigeration, for example, for using life-sustaining medical devices, providing power to motorized wheelchairs, and preserving certain medications, such as insulin, that require refrigeration. The written procedures will include a plan for notifying persons of the location of such shelter(s).
16. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Sheriffs Office will implement and report to the Department its written procedures that ensure that persons who use service animals are not separated from their service animals when sheltering during an emergency, even if pets are normally prohibited in shelters. The procedures will not unnecessarily segregate persons who use service animals from others but may take into account the potential presence of persons with disabilities who should not be in contact with certain types of animals, such as those with asthma, severe allergies, or certain phobic reactions.
17. Some of the of the Sheriffs Offices emergency shelters may be owned or operated by other public entities subject to title II or by public accommodations subject to title III and, as such, are subject to the obligation to provide program access or remove barriers to accessibility under the ADA. This Agreement does not limit such future enforcement action against the owners or operators of these facilities by any person or entity, including the Department.
18. Within five months of the effective date of this Agreement and until all emergency shelters have accessible parking, exterior routes, entrances, interior routes to the shelter area, and toilet rooms serving the shelter area, the Sheriffs Office will survey, identify, and widely publicize to the public and to disability rights groups the most accessible emergency shelters.
PHYSICAL CHANGES TO FACILITIES
19. The elements or features of the Sheriffs Offices facilities that do not comply with the Standards, including those listed in this section, prevent persons with disabilities from fully and equally enjoying the Sheriffs Offices services, programs, or activities and constitute discrimination on the basis of disability within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12132 and 28 C.F.R. §§ 35.149 and 35.150.
20. The Sheriffs Office will comply with the cited provisions of the Standards, 28 C.F.R. Part 36, App. A, when taking the actions required by this Agreement.
Program Access in Existing Facilities: In order to ensure that each of the Sheriffs Offices programs, services, and activities operating at a facility that is the subject of this Agreement, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by persons with mobility impairments, the Sheriffs Office will take the actions listed below:
21. The Parties agree that the technical requirements and, where appropriate, the scoping requirements of the Standards are used as a guide for determining whether a program or activity held in an existing facility is readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities and for determining what changes are necessary to make this program or activity accessible if it continues to be provided in the existing facility in question. See 28 C.F.R. §§ 35.150(b)(1), 35.151.
22. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Sheriffs Office will make the following modifications to the Citrus County Sheriffs Offices facilities:
A. Parking. The parking space for persons with disabilities is not designated as van accessible. Provide a sign designating the space as van accessible mounted below the symbol of accessibility in a location that cannot be obscured by a vehicle parked in the space. Standards §§ 4.1.2(5)(b), 4.6.4.
B. Service Counters. The service counters throughout the building are too high. Provide counters that are at least 36 inches wide and no more than 36 inches high, or provide access to services transacted at this counter through alternate means (e.g. by offering these services at an accessible location for individuals who use wheelchairs). Standards § 7.2(1).
C. Womens and Mens Toilet Rooms
1. The womens and mens toilet room identification signs are mounted on the doors. Provide signs with raised characters and Braille on the walls adjacent to the latch side of the doors so that the centerlines of the signs are 60 inches above the finished floor and a person can approach within 3 inches of the signs without encountering protruding objects or standing within the swing of a door. Standards §§ 4.30.1, 4.30.4, 4.30.5, 4.30.6.
2. The highest operable parts of the paper towel dispensers in the womens and mens toilet rooms are 64 inches high. Provide paper towel dispensers in the womens and mens toilet rooms so that the highest operable parts are no more than 48 inches above the finished floor for a front approach or 54 inches for a side approach. Standards §§ 4.27.3, 4.2.5, 4.2.6.
3. The highest operable part of the seat cover dispenser in the womens toilet room is 59 inches high. Provide a seat cover dispenser in the womens toilet room so that the highest operable part is no more than 48 inches above the finished floor for a front approach or 54 inches for a side approach. Standards §§ 4.27.3, 4.2.5, 4.2.6.
23. Except as otherwise specified in this Agreement, at three, six, and 12 months after the effective date of this Agreement, and annually thereafter until the termination or expiration of the Agreement, the Sheriffs Office will submit written reports to the Department summarizing the actions the Sheriffs Office has taken pursuant to this Agreement. Reports will include detailed photographs showing measurements, architectural plans, work orders, notices published in the newspapers, copies of adopted policies, and proof of efforts to secure funding/assistance for structural renovations or equipment.
24. Throughout the life of this Agreement, consistent with 28 C.F.R. § 35.133(a), the Sheriffs Office will maintain the accessibility of its programs, activities, services, facilities, and equipment, and will take whatever actions are necessary (such as routine testing of accessibility equipment and routine accessibility audits of its programs and facilities) to do so. This provision does not prohibit isolated or temporary interruptions in service or access due to maintenance or repairs. 28 C.F.R. § 35.133(b).
25. Within four months of the effective date of this Agreement, the Sheriffs Office will develop or procure a two-hour training program on the requirements of the ADA and the etiquette of interacting with persons with disabilities. The Sheriffs Office will use the ADA technical assistance materials developed by the Department and will consult with interested persons, including individuals with disabilities, in developing or procuring the ADA training program.
26. Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, the Sheriffs Office will deliver its training program to all Sheriffs Office employees who have direct contact with members of the public. At the end of that period, the Sheriffs Office will submit a copy of its training curriculum and materials to the Department, along with a list of employees trained and the name, title, and address of the trainer.
IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT
27. If at any time the Sheriffs Office desires to modify any portion of this Agreement because of changed conditions making performance impossible or impractical or for any other reason, it will promptly notify the Department in writing, setting forth the facts and circumstances thought to justify modification and the substance of the proposed modification. Until there is written agreement by the Department to the proposed modification, the proposed modification will not take effect. These actions must receive the prior written approval of the Department, which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld or delayed.
28. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that the Sheriffs Office has failed to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department for a modification of the relevant terms, the Department will so notify the Sheriffs Office in writing and it will attempt to resolve the issue or issues in good faith. If the Department is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue or issues raised within 30 days of the date it provides notice to the Sheriffs Office, it may institute a civil action in federal district court to enforce the terms of this Agreement, or it may initiate appropriate steps to enforce title II and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
29. For purposes of the immediately preceding paragraph, it is a violation of this Agreement for the Sheriffs Office to fail to comply in a timely manner with any of its requirements without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department for an extension of the relevant time frame imposed by the Agreement.
30. Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
31. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by the Sheriffs Office or the Department on request.
32. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement (including its Attachments), shall be enforceable. This Agreement does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other federal law. This Agreement does not affect the Sheriffs Offices continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
33. This Agreement will remain in effect for two years from the effective date of this Agreement, or until the parties agree that full compliance with this Agreement by the Sheriffs Office has been achieved, whichever is later.
34. The person signing for the Sheriffs Office represents that he or she is authorized to bind the Sheriffs Office to this Agreement.
35. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
For the Sheriff's Office: For the United States:
JEFFREY J. DAWSY, Sheriff
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division.
JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
MARY LOU MOBLEY, Acting Deputy Chief
NAOMI H. MILTON, Supervisory Attorney
AMELIA M. EDUARDO, Investigator
MICHELE ANTONIO MALLOZZI, Architect
U.S Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section-NYA
Washington , DC 20530
CITRUS COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE
POLICY STATEMENT REGARDING
EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION WITH
PEOPLE WHO ARE DEAF OR HARD OF HEARING
It is the policy of this law enforcement agency (Agency) to ensure that a consistently high level of service is provided to all community members, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing. This Agency has specific legal obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. To carry out these policies and legal obligations, the Agency instructs its officers and employees as follows:
- People who are deaf or hard of hearing are entitled to a level of service equivalent to that provided hearing persons.
- The Agency will make every effort to ensure that its officers and employees communicate effectively with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Effective communication with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing involved in an incident -- whether as a victim, witness, suspect, or arrestee is essential in ascertaining what actually occurred, the urgency of the matter, and type of situation.
- Various types of communication aids known as auxiliary aids and services are used to communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These include use of gestures or visual aids to supplement oral communication; an exchange of written notes; use of a computer or typewriter; use of assistive listening devices (to amplify sound for persons who are hard of hearing); or use of qualified oral or sign language interpreters.
- The type of aid that will be required for effective communication will depend on the individuals usual method of communication, and the nature, importance, and duration of the communication at issue.
- In many circumstances, oral communication supplemented by gestures and visual aids, an exchange of written notes, use of a computer or typewriter, or use of an assistive listening device may be effective. In other circumstances, qualified sign language or oral interpreters are needed to communicate effectively with persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. The more lengthy, complex, and important the communication, the more likely it is that a qualified interpreter will be required for effective communication with a person whose primary means of communication is sign language or speech reading. For example:
If there has been an incident and the officer is conducting witness interviews, a qualified sign language interpreter may be required to communicate effectively with someone whose primary means of communication is sign language.
If a person is asking an officer for directions to a location, gestures and an exchange of written notes will likely be sufficient to communicate effectively.
- To serve each individual effectively, primary consideration should be given to the communication aid or service that works best for that person. Officers must ask persons who are deaf or hard of hearing what type of auxiliary aid or service they need. Officers must defer to those expressed choices, unless there is another equally effective way of communicating, given the circumstances, length, complexity, and importance of the communication, as well as the communication skills of the person who is deaf or hard of hearing.
- The Agency is not required to provide a particular auxiliary aid or service if doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the law enforcement activity in question, or if it would cause an undue administrative or financial burden. Only the Agency head or his or her designee may make this determination. For example:
If the Agency has limited financial resources and providing a particular auxiliary aid would cost a large sum of money, the Agency head may determine that it would be an undue financial burden (note: the Agencys budget as a whole must be considered). In this situation, the most effective means of communication that does not involve an undue burden must be used.
- The input of people who are deaf or hard of hearing who are involved in incidents is just as important to the law enforcement process as the input of others. Officers must not draw conclusions about incidents unless they fully understand -- and are understood by -- all those involved, including persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- People who are deaf or hard of hearing must never be charged for the cost of an auxiliary aid or service needed for effective communication.
ON-CALL INTERPRETIVE SERVICES
- The Agency will maintain a list of sign language and oral interpreting services that are available (on-call 24 hours per day) and willing to provide qualified interpreters as needed. Each of these services will be chosen after having been screened for the quality and skill of its interpreters, its reliability, and other factors such as cost. The Agency will update this list annually.
- A qualified sign language or oral interpreter is one who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary. Accordingly, an interpreter must be able to sign to the deaf individual (or interpret orally to the person who does not use sign language) what is being said by the hearing person and to voice to the hearing person what is being signed or said by the deaf individual. The interpreter must be able to interpret in the language the deaf person uses (e.g., American Sign Language or Signed English) and must be familiar with law enforcement terms and phrases. Because a qualified interpreter must be able to interpret impartially, a family member, child, or friend of the individual who is deaf may not be qualified to render the necessary interpretation because of factors such as professional, emotional, or personal involvement, or considerations of confidentiality. Additionally, although a qualified interpreter may be certified, a certified interpreter is not necessarily qualified, if he or she is not a good communications match for the deaf person (e.g., where the deaf person uses Signed English and the interpreter uses American Sign Language) or the situation (e.g., where the interpreter is unfamiliar with law enforcement vocabulary). Certification is not required in order for an interpreter to be qualified.
TTY AND RELAY SERVICES
- In situations when a non-disabled person would have access to a telephone, officers must provide persons who are deaf or hard of hearing the opportunity to place calls using a text telephone (TTY, also known as a telecommunications device for deaf people, or TDD). Officers must also accept telephone calls placed by persons who are deaf or hard of hearing through the Telecommunications Relay Service.
TECHNIQUES FOR OFFICERS TO COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY
- Officers must review and have a working knowledge of Guide for Law Enforcement Officers When In Contact With People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. This document reviews how officers should communicate effectively in the types of situations officers will encounter. These situations include:
Issuing a noncriminal or motor vehicle citation.
Communicating with a person who initiates contact with an officer.
Interviewing a victim or critical witness to an incident.
Questioning a person who is a suspect in a crime.
Making an arrest or taking a person into custody.
Issuing Miranda Warnings to a person under arrest or in custody.
Interrogating a person under arrest or in custody.
PROCEDURES FOR OBTAINING AUXILIARY AIDS AND SERVICES
- Officers must utilize the following auxiliary aids, when available, to communicate effectively:
Use of gestures
Use of visual aids
Exchange of written notes
Use of computers or typewriters
Use of assistive listening devices
Use of teletypewriters (TTYs)
Use of qualified oral or sign language interpreters
GUIDE FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
When In Contact With People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
As a law enforcement officer, you can expect to come into contact with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits State and local government from discriminating against an individual with a disability. Municipal and State police and county sheriff departments are bound by this Federal law. Your office has adopted a more detailed policy regarding law enforcement officers communication with people who are deaf of hard of hearing. You should become familiar with this policy.
What does title II require of you when interacting with persons who are deaf or hard of hearing? Among other things, your communication with such an individual must be as effective as your communication with hearing people.
How do you communicate? Provide aids or services as necessary to ensure that the deaf or hard of hearing individual understands what you are saying and that you understand him or her. These can include:
use of qualified sign language or oral interpreters
for people who are hard of hearing, speaking loudly and clearly, and use of assistive listening devices (to amplify sound)
use of gestures or visual aids to supplement oral communication
an exchange of written notes
or use of a computer or typewriter.
What method of communication should you use? The law requires you to give primary consideration to the individuals preference. Ask how the person wishes to communicate.
For example, some people who are deaf do not use sign language and may need to use a different aid or rely on lipreading. In one-on-one communication with an individual who lip reads, an officer should face the individual directly, and should ensure that the communication takes place in a well-lighted area.
Honor the individuals choice unless it would significantly interfere with your law enforcement responsibilities or you are confident that other means of communicating, that may be easier to provide, are just as effective. Remember that deaf or hard of hearing persons must be able to understand you as well as those who do not have hearing impairments.
DO NOT ask a family member or friend to interpret for a deaf individual unless it is urgent to communicate immediately and that is the only option. If the deaf person requests that arrangement and the other person agrees, however, you can proceed.
How do you know when you are communicating clearly to an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing? Ask the person to summarize what you are saying. Test his or her understanding.
If the person uses sign language, what kinds of communication require an interpreter? Consider the length, importance, and complexity of the communication, as well as the context.
In a simple encounter, such as checking a drivers license or giving directions, a notepad and pencil or perhaps gestures will normally be sufficient.
During interrogations and arrests, a sign language interpreter will often be necessary.
If the legality of a conversation will be questioned in court, such as where Miranda warnings are issued, a sign language interpreter may be necessary. You should be careful about
misunderstandings in the absence of a qualified interpreter. A nod of the head may be an attempt to appear cooperative in the midst of misunderstanding, rather than consent or a confession of wrongdoing.
In general, if an individual who does not have a hearing disability would be subject to police action without interrogation, then an interpreter will not be required, unless one is necessary to explain the action being taken.
Example: An officer clocks a car on the highway driving 15 miles above the speed limit. The driver, who is deaf, is pulled over and issued a noncriminal citation. The individual is able to understand the reasons for the citation, because the officer exchanges notes and points to information on the citation. A sign language interpreter is not needed.
Example: An officer responds to an aggravated battery call and upon arriving at the scene observes a bleeding victim and an individual holding a weapon. Eyewitnesses observed the individual strike the victim. The individual with the weapon is deaf, but the officer has probable cause to make a felony arrest without an interrogation. An interpreter is not necessary to carry out the arrest.
Example: An officer responds to the scene of a domestic disturbance. The husband says the wife has been beating their children and he has been trying to restrain her. The wife, who is deaf, requests an interpreter. The officer begins by exchanging notes but the womans responses indicate a lack of comprehension and poor grammar. An interpreter is necessary to carry out any arrest. In this situation, it would be inappropriate to use a family member to assist with communication, even if it is offered.
Do you have to take a sign language interpreter to a call about a violent crime in progress or a similar urgent situation involving a person who is deaf? No. An officer's immediate priority is to stabilize the situation. If the person being arrested is deaf, the officer can make an arrest and call for an interpreter to be available later at the booking station.
Contact numbers for your local sign language interpreters:
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: October 09, 2008