U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Coordination and Review Section P.O. BOX 66118 Washington, D.C.

20035-6118 XX XX XX JAN 23 1995

RE: Complaint Number XX Dear Mr. XX : This letter constitutes the Department of Justice's Letter of Findings with respect to your complaint against the Cottonport Police Department (Police Department), alleging a violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). You alleged that the Police Department did not provide you with an appropriate auxiliary aid to ensure effective communication with you when it detained you. Title II prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in the programs and activities of State and local government entities, including enforcement agencies. Based on a review of information supplied by you and by the Police Department, we have determined that the Police Department has not violated Title II with respect to your allegations. The evidence indicates that on April 8, 1992, at about 11:25 p.m., an officer of the Cottonport Police Department observed your vehicle travelling across the center line into the opposite lane. When the officer turned on his top bar lights and pulled you over to the side of road, the officer observed that you drove your vehicle onto the shoulder and across the sidewalk before stopping. When he approached you, he smelled alcohol on your breath and observed that your eyes were bloodshot and glassy. The officer also observed that you could hardly walk. The officer asked you for your driver's license, but you did not have it. The officer then called by radio to the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Department to ask for a check on your driving record. The Sheriff's Department advised the officer that you were driving with a suspended/revoked license. The officer then

01-00255 -2advised you by writing on a tablet that you were going to be arrested for these charges. At that point, the officer put handcuffs on you and called the Louisiana State Police. The officer also called the Sheriff's Department to ask for an officer who knew sign language to come to the scene. The Sheriff's Department officer came and used sign language to advise you that, due to the nature of the charges against you, you were to be transported to the Avoyelles Parish Jail. The State Police officer came, arrested, and transported you to the Jail. Under section 35.160(a) of the Title II regulation, a public entity must take appropriate steps to ensure that its communications with individuals with disabilities are as effective as communications with others. Section 35.160(b) requires the public entity to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication. For individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, auxiliary aids and services include, but are not limited to, qualified interpreters and writing on note pads (section 35.104). If an individual without a hearing impairment would have been stopped or arrested on probable cause, then an individual with a hearing impairment in the same situation does not need to be provided with an interpreter prior to an arrest. However, a qualified interpreter may still be required subsequent to the arrest if an officer is unable to convey to the arrestee the nature of the charges by communicating on a note pad or by using another means of communication. If an interpreter is required, the arresting officer or the transporting officer can convey the necessary information through the interpreter either at the scene or at a facility where the arrestee is to be held.

The investigation disclosed that the Police Department does not arrest individuals on felony or driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges, and that individuals detained on felony or DWI charges will be detained until the Avoyelles Parish Sheriff's Department and/or State Police Department arrive, at which time these agencies actually make the arrest. The investigation also showed that a police officer has no obligation under State or local laws to inform or advise you of your rights before making a call to the State Police for an arrest. The facts show that the Police Department advised you by writing on a tablet that you would be arrested for driving while intoxicated with a suspended/revoked license. The Sheriff's Department's officer, at the Police Departments request, advised you in sign language of what had happened and what would occur. These facts show that the Police Department took appropriate steps to ensure that the Police Department's communication with you was as effective as communications with others. 01-00256 -3Based upon these facts, we find that the Police Department did not violate Title II. We are closing your case effective the date of this letter. If you are dissatisfied with our determination, you may file a complaint presenting your allegations of discrimination in an appropriate United States District Court under Title II of the ADA. You should be aware that no one may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or engage in other discriminatory conduct against anyone because he or she has either taken action or participated in an action to secure rights protected by the ADA. Any individual alleging such harassment or intimidation may file a complaint with the Department of Justice. We would investigate such a complaint if the situation warrants. Under the Freedom of Information Act, it may be necessary to release this document and related correspondence and records upon request. In the event that we receive such a request, we will seek to protect, to the extent provided by law, personal information, which, if released, could constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy. Sincerely,

Merrily A. Friedlander Acting Chief Coordination and Review Section Civil Rights Division cc: Gerald J. Mayeux Chief Police Cottonport Police Department

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