Arlington County Sheriff’s Office Agrees to Settle ADA Claim
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Today the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced a $250,000 settlement agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) that it failed to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services to an individual who is deaf.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office’s investigation began when it was made aware of allegations that during a 40-day incarceration at the Arlington County Detention Facility (ACDF), the ACSO, which operates ACDF, violated the ADA by failing to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including sign language interpreter services, to a former detainee who is deaf during complex communications with the ACDF’s staff and its medical contractor. Further, the complainant, who is unable to read and write in English, alleged that the ACDF’s staff failed to furnish him with a telecommunication device that would ensure that he could communicate with individuals outside the detention facility, including his counsel.
“People who are deaf or hard of hearing must be able to communicate clearly with law enforcement officials,” said Tracy Doherty-McCormick, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Through this settlement agreement, the Arlington County Sheriff has taken important steps to ensure that the operations of the Arlington County Detention Facility are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Under the settlement, the ACSO will pay $250,000 to the aggrieved individual. The settlement agreement also requires the ACSO to take remedial steps to bring itself into compliance with the ADA, including the appointment of an ADA Coordinator who is familiar with the ADA’s requirements; providing ADA training to its staff; adopting specific policies and procedures to ensure that auxiliary aids and services are provided promptly to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing; procuring telecommunication devices usable by individuals who are deaf including videophones; providing hearing aid and cochlear implant processor batteries in the detention facility; ensuring that the ACSO responds promptly to disability related needs of its inmates; and adopting other policies consistent with the ADA. Significantly, the Arlington County Sheriff took several steps that improve the ADA compliance of the ACDF even before finalizing the settlement agreement.
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Gordon, who is the Civil Rights Enforcement Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The Department of Justice has a number of publications available to assist law enforcement agencies in complying with the ADA on its web site, including “Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: ADA Guide for Law Enforcement Officers,” at http://www.ada.gov/lawenfcomm.pdf. For more information on the ADA and to access this publication, visit http://www.ada.gov or call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD).
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae.