The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday it reached a settlement with Columbia Police Department concerning communications access to those with hearing disabilities.
The Justice Department investigated a complaint that the police department failed to provide effective communication to someone who was arrested, according to a news release from the DOJ. The complainant, who is deaf, alleged the department failed to provide a sign language interpreter for him, despite several requests during three months, including during his arrest.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires communications between public entities, such as police officers, and those with hearing disabilities are as effective as communications with those without disabilities.
“Our first responders play a critical role in protecting the safety of our communities, and we must ensure they can communicate effectively with all people, including those with hearing disabilities,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This settlement will ensure that the Columbia Police Department complies with federal law, protects the civil rights of all its residents and more effectively advances public safety.”
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The agreement does not constitute admission of a violation of the ADA, as the police department does not agree with the complainant’s allegations.
The agreement is a collaboration on the federal level and the police department to implement policies in compliance with the ADA.
The release stated CPD is cooperating with federal authorities.
Under the settlement agreement, CPD will:
• Provide auxiliary aids and services free of charge, including sign language interpreters, to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, within proscribed time frames
• Modify handcuffing policies to handcuff deaf individuals in front, safety permitting, to enable the person to communicate using sign language or writing
• Designate an ADA coordinator for law enforcement
• Develop and utilize a communication card to communicate with persons who are deaf or hard of hearing during routine interactions in the field
• Develop a communication assessment form to assess, in consultation with an arrestee, what auxiliary aids or services are necessary, and the timing, duration and frequency with which they will be provided
• Provide at least one TTY and one videophone at each CPD station and sub-station
• Conduct annual ADA training for CPD personnel
• Adopt and publish grievance procedures providing for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints against CPD alleging any action that would be prohibited by Title II or the agreement.
DOJ settlement with Columbia Police Department
To read the entire settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Columbia Police Department, click here.
ADA complaints may be filed at email@example.com.