In November 2019, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office teamed up with Bergen Community College to launch a new initiative for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. This unique collaborative partnership aims to bridge the communication gap between law enforcement and individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Together staff from BCC and the BCSO create a communication card that will allow Sheriff’s Officers to non-verbally communicate during a traffic stop. The card offers quick tips to help facilitate an interaction and action icons that allow an officer to proceed through a stop.
The cards have been deployed in every Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle responsible for responding across the county.
The card offers quick tips to facilitate an interaction, including but not limited to:
- "Get my attention first,"
- "Make eye contact when you speak" and
- "I cannot lip-read everything you say."
Icons on the card indicate the best form of communication so the individual who is deaf or hard-of-hearing can point to either "Interpreter," "Texting,” "Writing," "Lip-reading," "No lip-read" or "Assistive listening device."
The second side of the card allows for an officer to point to an image of either a driver’s license, insurance card, or a vehicle registration card to indicate what the officer needs to see. The card also lists a variety of icons that describe what the person’s violation is, including, but not limited to, a speed limit sign, a stop sign, a cell phone indicating use while driving, and a seat belt.