409.01 Effective Communication with Persons Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf/Blind, Have Hearing Loss and/or for Whom English is a Second Language

It is the policy of the Saint Paul Police Department to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services whenever necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind, have hearing loss and/or for who English is a second language.

Minnesota Statute 611.31 says, a “"person disabled in communication" means a person who:

(1) Because of a hearing, speech or other communication disorder, or (2) Because of difficulty in speaking or comprehending the English language, cannot fully understand the proceedings or any charges made against the person, or the seizure of the person's property, or is incapable of presenting or assisting in the presentation of a defense.”


Auxiliary Aids and Services:  Any item that may assist in ensuring effective communication.  Examples include, pen and paper, note cards, texting, assistive listening devices. Services include CART providers and interpreters.  Officers are encouraged to allow individuals to offer auxiliary devices to aid in communication as well.

American Sign Language (ASL): A visual language where communication is made through various hand signs and gestures.  The English language is commonly a second language for deaf individuals.

Qualified Interpreter:  Someone who is able to interpret effectively, accurately and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.

Certified Interpreter: A hearing person who is nationally certified to interpret the signed message into spoken English for hearing people, and interpret the spoken message into American Sign Language (ASL) for individuals who are deaf, or transliterate the spoken message into sign using English word order for people who are not fluent in ASL.

Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI): CDI’s are deaf or hard of hearing individuals who are nationally certified by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). While a certified hearing interpreter may be adequate in many situations, CDIs are particularly useful when the communication mode used by the deaf consumer is unique, such as when they have minimal or limited communication skills or use signs that a hearing interpreter may not be familiar with (non-standard signs, “home” signs, a foreign sign language, regional signs, etc.).  CDI’s have specialized training and/or experience in the use of gesture, mime, props, drawings and other tools to enhance communication.

Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) Captioning: A CART provider is word-for-word speech-to-text service that displays complete translation of all spoken words and environmental sound in real time to accurately communicate the integrity of the message.

Communicating with a Suspect Prior to Arrest:

All persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind, have hearing loss and/or for who English is a second language will be treated equally under the law. If probable cause exists to make an arrest, an officer should not provide disparate treatment to a person who is disabled in communication.  The officer should use reasonable means to communicate based on the totality of the circumstances, including available auxiliary aids and services. While it is not mandatory to have an interpreter present prior to an arrest being made, officers are encouraged to contact a supervisor to determine if an interpreter will be needed as time and circumstances allow.   Minor children present during an arrest should not be used to interpret.  Officers should exercise good judgement when asking children to interpret for other calls for service when a member of their family has been a victim.

Communicating with a Suspect after an Arrest:

Saint Paul Police officers are required to communicate to all suspects why they are being detained or arrested. 

Prior to transport or as soon as feasible, the transporting officer shall notify the Ramsey County Adult Detention supervisor that a person who is deaf, hard of hearing or deaf/blind will be turned over to their custody and, if relevant, the need for an interpreter or other auxiliary aid of service. 

If property is seized under Minnesota Statute 609.531, subdivision 4: Seizure, from a person disabled in communication, the seizing officer will make a qualified and/or certified interpreter available if the person whose property was seized is deaf, hard of hearing or deaf/blind and requests one.

Prior to interrogating or taking the statement of a suspect who is deaf, hard of hearing or deaf/blind the arresting officer must make a certified interpreter or CART provider available to the suspect to assist them throughout the interrogation or taking of a statement (Minnesota Statute 611.32). An arresting officer may not have another officer or investigator interpret for them during an interrogation or taking of a statement. All interrogations with persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf/blind will be video recorded in order to document the actual words spoken by the suspect, the arresting officer, and any interpreter. Interrogations of all others will be audio taped.  If an interpreter or CART provider is used, all identifying information about the interpreter or CART provider will be included in the officer's report.  The investigator must ensure that video is adequate to capture all interpreters’ visual communication.  CART providers will be asked to provide a transcript of the interview.

A suspect who is deaf, hard of hearing or deaf/blind may waive the assistance of an interpreter or CART provider and consent to typed or written communication once the officer has reasonably determined that the suspect understands the waiver.  In such cases, all written communications must be retained. The originals must be turned in to the property room or property room locker as evidence, and a copy turned in with the officer’s reports.

In all cases the Miranda rules apply.

Communicating with a Victim or Critical Witness:

Officers must provide auxiliary aids or may provide an interpreter or CART provider as necessary to communicate effectively with complainants, witnesses, or victims promptly after learning such individual is deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind, has hearing loss or for whom English is a second language. 

Obtaining a Certified Interpreter or CART Provider:

If an officer needs a certified interpreter or CART provider, they should contact the unit that will investigate the case, their supervisor or the watch commander for authorization. The executive sergeant of the Major Crimes Division is the deaf and hard of hearing coordinator and can be utilized, as well as the ECC, to assist in obtaining an interpreter or CART provider.  Officers not obtaining an interpreter or CART provider should consider utilizing auxiliary aids to enhance communication. 

Information for the Report:

As previously mentioned, if communication is accomplished in writing or typewritten, the original writings must be turned in as evidence and a copy turned in with the officer's report. If a certified interpreter or CART provider is used, all information about the interpreter or CART provider (full name, full address, and contact phone numbers) must be written in the officer's report.  As outlined above, suspect interrogations must be video or audio recorded.  Video and/or audio recording is also recommended for victims and witnesses who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind and have hearing loss. This procedure will assure that any dispute regarding proper interpretation of a person's statements can be properly resolved later if necessary.

Revised May 8, 2018