Settlement Agreement Secures More Training for Communication with Hearing Impaired Persons
ALBUQUERQUE, NM—Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) to expand officer training on communication with hearing impaired persons. The settlement is a result of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU-NM in 2009 on behalf of a hearing impaired woman who was not provided a sign language interpreter during an encounter with BCSO deputies.
“Law enforcement work places officers in situations in which they must interact with many different kinds of people. Some of those people have special communications needs,” said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson.
Under the terms of the settlement, the Board of County Commissioners for the County of Bernalillo agrees to take the following steps:
- The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department will distribute the United States Department of Justice Pamphlet entitled “Communicating With People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing” to all personnel assigned to the Sheriff’s Department. BCSO will also ensure that the county personnel assigned to the Emergency Communications Department are provided with information and procedures concerning the manner in which a certified Sign Language Interpreter may be contacted when necessary.
- Within one year, BCSO will provide refresher training to all supervisory and dispatch personnel concerning standard operating procedures for communicating with persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Within one year, BCSO will collaborate with a local advocacy group for the hearing impaired to obtain information and materials to incorporate into the training curriculum at the BCSO law enforcement academy.
The additional training provided to deputies and support staff will help ensure that BCSO remains in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and that the rights of the hearing impaired continue to be respected.
“We are extremely pleased that we are able to collaborate with the sheriff’s office to improve officer training,” said Simonson. “BCSO has reaffirmed their commitment to serving the hearing impaired community.”
ACLU-NM Cooperating Attorney George Bach of Bach & Garcia, LLC represented the plaintiff in this case.