MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Commutation failures between police officers and the hearing impaired could soon be averted on Long Island thanks to a new bill that would mandate Nassau County print motorist cards to help deaf drivers.
Traffic stops can be alarming and confusing for anyone, especially if you cannot hear.
“Recently I was stopped by police, it was dark at night and I couldn’t understand what the person was saying to me,” Loretta Murray tells CBS2.
Deaf leaders, staff, and students from Mill Neck Manor took growing worries to their local legislator, Joshua Lafazan (I-18th).
“Mill Neck came to my office and said a major issue right now is for drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing interacting with police officers,” Lafazan said.
The legislator and his hearing impaired constituents met with Nassau Police, and together they came up with a visor card so that the deaf driver and the cop in any future encounter can point to the page and the problem.
“We are a very service oriented police department, highly trained, and this is one more positive step to the communication with individuals who are hearing impaired,” Commissioner Richard Lebrun said.
The proposal follows nationwide calls for changes in how law enforcement officers are trained to communicate with the deaf or hard of hearing.
“No one should die because of a routine traffic stop,” Murray said.
The bill is in response to harrowing encounters elsewhere in the country. In North Carolina, a deaf man singing was misinterpreted by a police officer who shot him dead.
“The crux of this visor card is that in a time of crisis or adversity it will make the communication more clear, more effective,” Lafazan said.
The visor card is scheduled for a vote before the full 19 member legislature on Wednesday.