Settlement Agreement Between The United States Of America And Seminole Police Department, Seminole, Texas

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 204-73-73



This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ァァ 12131-12134, with the United States Department of Justice ("Department of Justice") against the Seminole Police Department, Seminole, Texas. 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 alleged that although her son, who is deaf, was a victim in an automobile accident on June 18, 1994, the Seminole Police Department failed to provide a sign language interpreter when necessary to ensure that communications with the complainant's son were as effective as communications with others.
The Department of Justice is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate fully the allegations of the complaint in this matter to determine the Seminole Police Department's compliance with title II of the ADA and the Justice Department's implementing regulation, issue findings, and, where appropriate, negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized under 42 U.S.C. ァ 12133, to bring civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department of Justice fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement as set forth below, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing civil suit in this matter.
The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and the Seminole Police Department. The parties agree that this Agreement is not an admission of violation and should not be construed as an admission by the Seminole Police Department of any violation.

In the interests of securing compliance by voluntary means, the parties hereby agree as follows:

  1. The ADA applies to the Seminole Police Department ("Police Department") because it is a public entity as defined in the Department of Justice's regulation implementing title II. 28 C.F.R. 35.104.
  2. The subject of this Settlement Agreement is a written policy which is attached, that requires that in those situations where the provision of interpreting services is necessary to ensure effective communication, the Police Department will secure qualified interpreting services.
  3. In order to ensure effective communication with members of the public who are deaf or hard of hearing in the Police Department's programs, activities, and services, the Police Department agrees:
    1. To provide, at the Police Department's expense, appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified interpreters, when necessary to afford a qualified individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity conducted by the Police Department.
    2. To give primary consideration to the requests of the individuals with disabilities, in determining what type of auxiliary aid or service is necessary.
    3. To notify individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing about the provision of auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication. The Police Department will distribute this information through pamphlets, posters or other appropriate means.
  1. In order to inform members of the public regarding the provisions of title II and their applicability to the Police Department's programs, services and activities, the Police Department will publish, within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the following notice or an equivalent, on two separate occasions in a newspaper of general circulation serving the City of Seminole, Texas.
    In accordance with the requirements of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Seminole Police Department will not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in the Police Department's services, programs, or activities. The Police Department will provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified interpreters, whenever necessary to ensure effective communication with members of the public who are deaf and hard of hearing.
  1. The Seminole Police Department will provide a copy of the notice in paragraph 4 to any person upon request.
  2. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Police Department will instruct all of its employees to comply with the provisions of this Agreement.
  3. Within 150 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Seminole Police Department will submit a report to the Department of Justice detailing the actions it has taken to comply with the preceding provisions. This report will include copies of notices published in the newspapers.
  4. This document is a public agreement. A copy of this document or any information contained in it may be made available to any person. The Seminole Police Department will provide a copy of this Agreement to any person on request.
  5. The Department of Justice may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department of Justice believes that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it may institute civil action seeking specific performance of the provisions of this Agreement in an appropriate Federal court, or reopen the investigation of this matter.
  6. Failure by the Department of Justice to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any deadline or any other provision herein will not be construed as a waiver of its right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
  7. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
  8. 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, will be enforceable under its provisions. This Agreement is limited to the matters alleged as set forth in the first paragraph, and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act or any other Federal law. This Agreement does not affect the Seminole Police Department's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of title II of the ADA.
  9. This Agreement will remain in effect for two years from the effective date of this Agreement, or until full compliance with this Agreement by the Police Department has been achieved.

For the Seminole Police Department:

______________________________      Date: ____________________
M.D. BROWNE
Chief of Police
Seminole Police Department
301 East Avenue A
Seminole, TX 79360


For the United States:

______________________________      Date: ____________________
JOHN WODATCH, Chief
IRENE BOWEN, Deputy Chief
Disability Rights Section
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738


Attachment








POLICY ON EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION IN SITUATIONS INVOLVING INDIVIDUALS WITH HEARING IMPAIRMENTS

GENERALLY

It is the policy of the Seminole Police Department (Department) to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services when necessary to ensure effective communication with persons with hearing impairments.

  1. The term "auxiliary aids and services" includes qualified interpreters, note pads, written materials, and other effective methods of making aurally delivered materials available to individuals with hearing impairments.
  2. A "qualified 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 both to sign to the individual who is deaf what is being said by the hearing person and to voice to the hearing person what is being signed by the individual who is deaf. Because a qualified interpreter must be able to interpret impartially, a family member or friend may not be qualified to render the necessary interpretation because of factors such as emotional or personal involvement or considerations of confidentiality. Additionally, although a "qualified" interpreter may be certified, a certified interpreter is not necessarily "qualified." Similarly, certification is not required in order for an interpreter to be "qualified."
  3. When an auxiliary aid or service is necessary to ensure effective communication, the Department will:
    1. provide an opportunity for an individual with a disability to request the auxiliary aid and service of his or her choice, and
    2. give "primary consideration" to the choice expressed by the individual. "Primary consideration" means that the Department must honor the choice, unless it can demonstrate that another equally effective means of communication is available, or that use of the means chosen would result either in a fundamental alteration in the service, program or activity or in undue financial burden.
  4. This policy addresses those situations where a police officer, after consulting with the individual with a disability, determines that the services of a "qualified interpreter" are necessary to ensure effective communication.

  1. ARREST UPON PROBABLE CAUSE WHERE INTERVIEW IS NOT NECESSARY
  2. If an individual without a hearing impairment would have been arrested on probable cause without an interview, then a subject with a hearing impairment in the same situation does not need to be provided with a qualified interpreter. However, if an officer is unable to convey to the subject the nature of the criminal charges by communicating on a note pad or by using another means of communication, then a qualified interpreter may be required. In this case, the subject should be transported to a holding cell at the Department and either the arresting officer or the transporting officer can convey this information through the interpreter when the interpreter arrives.

  3. INTERVIEW NEEDED TO ARREST INDIVIDUAL WITH A HEARING IMPAIRMENT
  4. If a police officer needs to interview a suspect with a hearing impairment to determine if there is probable cause to make an arrest, a qualified interpreter must be provided if the written communication is ineffective. When the services of a qualified interpreter are required to ensure effective communication, but the officer cannot wait until a qualified interpreter arrives, the officer must postpone the interview and possible arrest until the officer can make arrangements for a qualified interpreter to be present. If this is not possible, the officer must document his or her investigation as completely as possible and file the appropriate report.

  5. INTERROGATING A SUBJECT WITH A HEARING IMPAIRMENT
  6. If an officer cannot effectively inform the subject of the Miranda rights without the use of an interpreter, then the officer must secure the services of a qualified interpreter in order to communicate accurately the warnings to the subject prior to any interrogation.

    An officer seeking to interrogate an subject with a hearing impairment must obtain the services of a qualified interpreter prior to any interrogation whenever an interpreter is needed for effective communication. The officer may proceed with the interrogation by using a note pad if:

    1. Exigent circumstances do not permit a delay in the interrogation of the subject;
    2. An interpreter cannot be located within a reasonable period of time;
    3. Written communication between the officer and the subject was effective in conveying an understanding of the Miranda rights; AND
    4. The subject specifically declines the opportunity to communicate through an interpreter.

    However, if written communication becomes ineffective, for example, because the factual pattern is complex, because the subject is having difficulty communicating without an interpreter, or because the subject chooses to discontinue the interrogation, the officer must discontinue the interrogation and wait until a qualified interpreter is present before continuing the interrogation.

  7. ISSUANCE OF A NON-CRIMINAL CITATION
  8. If an individual without a hearing impairment would have been issued a non-criminal citation without having been questioned by the investigating officer, then a suspect with a hearing impairment in the same situation does not need to be provided with a qualified interpreter. However, if the officer is unable to convey to the violator the nature of the infraction by communicating on a note pad or by using another means of communication, then the officer should use his or her discretion as to whether to call a qualified interpreter to the scene or whether to issue a warning rather than a citation.

  9. INTERVIEWING A VICTIM OR CRITICAL WITNESS WITH A HEARING IMPAIRMENT
  10. If an officer is able to communicate effectively by writing questions on a note pad and having the victim or witness with a hearing impairment write his or her responses, then the officer may proceed with the interview using a note pad. However, if an investigating officer is unable to communicate effectively with a victim or critical witness by using a note pad or some other means of communication other than a qualified interpreter, then the investigating officer must provide the victim or critical witness with a qualified interpreter. If the investigating officer cannot wait until a qualified interpreter arrives, then the investigating officer must document his or her investigation as completely as possible and file the report.

    All identifying information on the interpreter must be included in the report. All written questions must be included in the report. All written questions and responses between and among police officers and persons with hearing impairments must be treated as evidence and handled accordingly. A copy of the written questions and responses must be forwarded with the police report, and the originals must be placed into evidence.

    >
Updated August 6, 2015

Was this page helpful?

Was this page helpful?
Yes No