Local police to begin carrying communication cards

By: Bria Brown | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published July 25, 2018

 1. The Eastpointe Police Department will now carry communication cards designed to communicate with those who may be unable to hear.

1. The Eastpointe Police Department will now carry communication cards designed to communicate with those who may be unable to hear.

Photo provided by the Eastpointe Police Department

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EASTPOINTE/ROSEVILLE — The Eastpointe Police Department will now carry communication cards designed to communicate with those who may be unable to hear. 

The department explained on its “Eastpointe Police Department (Official Site)” Facebook page July 17 that during police contact, the cards will allow police to communicate easily with drivers and vice versa. 

Police said that one side of the card has graphics that allow officers to communicate with drivers regarding the reason why they were stopped, and allows officers to gather information if a motorist is out of fuel, lost, has a flat tire, needs a tow truck or needs medical assistance. 

The other side of the communication card provides tips for drivers to indicate the most effective way to communicate with them. 

Eastpointe Police Department Deputy Chief Eric Keiser stated in an email to the Eastsider July 19 that he came across the cards while updating the department’s communication with the deaf and hearing-impaired policy.

While the department is providing copies of the card free of charge at the Eastpointe Police Department lobby, 16083 E. Nine Mile Road, 24 hours a day, Keiser stated that he was not aware that any officers had used the card yet. 

“In the past, we have used a pen and notebook to communicate with those with hearing disabilities,” he stated.

He also mentioned that for those who do not speak English, the department has different cards. 

“I have only found this version of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing card in English. We do have other cards in many different languages that allow us to determine which language we need to find a translator for. We can also use Google Translate in emergency situations. Translations for legal rights or processes (Miranda Rights and court proceedings) required a qualified and effective translator. We have a list of translators, should we have to arrest a hearing-impaired person,” he stated. 

“The Deaf and Hard of Hearing cards could very well help with people who do not speak English. We know that communication barriers can lead to frustrations and escalate a situation. We do all we can to help the public we serve and constantly look for ways to improve our service,” he stated.  

Hypothetically speaking, Keiser said he doesn’t believe a driver reaching for the card could result in a fatal incident. 

“I do not believe there is a risk to someone reaching for a communication card. A citizen should communicate their intention and reach slowly. Eastpointe officers are highly trained, but a little common sense goes a long way when a citizen has an encounter with the police,” he stated. 

On traffic stops, Keiser said it is not a good idea to suddenly reach under a seat or in an area where the officer can’t see. 

“The officer may believe the person is reaching for a weapon. If a citizen doesn’t agree with the reason for a traffic stop, we recommend that the citizen does not get aggressive with the officer. That increases the officer’s level of concern and can escalate a situation. There are other, safer ways to solve a disagreement with the police,” he stated. 

Roseville Police Department Chief James Berlin said July 19 that the department wasn’t aware of the communication cards that the Eastpointe Police Department was using, but the Roseville Police Department uses its own methods. 

“We have had people with some communication issues, and we have a pad and paper where we go back and forth,” said Berlin. 

He said the department also “has access to a hearing-impaired phone” where they have a translator to communicate in a crisis. 

Berlin also told the Eastsider that he would get in contact with Keiser to see exactly what’s being handed out, and the Roseville department probably would “follow suit.” 

To view the visor card online, visit www.michigan.gov/doddbhh.

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