Q: I know the Red Wing Police Department has a translation line for people who don't speak, English but how does RWPD communicate with the deaf?

A: Red Wing Police Department Policy No. 50 provides guidance to members of the Department for “Communicating with People that are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.” The policy follows a model policy provided by the Department of Justice, Office of Civil Rights, and provides guidance for contacting a national interpretive services hotline, TTY and relay services, and techniques for officers to communicate more effectively. The DOJ also provides a guide titled “Communicating with People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: ADA Guide for Law Enforcement Officers.

RWPD continually looks for opportunities to improve services to our community; recently we enhanced our communications with the hearing impaired by purchasing 10 copies of the "Phonetically Speaking American Sign Language Guide" for law enforcement. These guides will be placed in each marked squad to enhance officer communications with the hearing impaired.

Minnesota Department of Human Services added a new communications card to help Minnesotans who are deaf and hard of hearing and police officers. DHS recommends that people who are deaf or hard of hearing download a copy of the communications card to keep in your glove compartment, preferably near your insurance card, to assist in communicating with law enforcement if needed. You can download and print additional copies of this communications card from the DHS website at edocs.dhs.state.mn.us/lfserver/Public/DHS-7438-ENG or get more information at www.mn.gov/deaf-hard-of-hearing. You can also request printed copies of the communications card by email: dhs.dhhsd@state.mn.us or calling 800-657-3663 voice or your preferred relay service, or 651-964-1514 videophone. DHHSD staff will need:

1) your name,

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2) mailing address and

3) the name of the county where you live.

Offering this aid helps the officers communicate effectively with residents that are hearing impaired.

Minnesota Statute 611.32 PROCEEDINGS WHERE INTERPRETER APPOINTED, also states “In any proceeding in which a person disabled in communication may be subjected to confinement, criminal sanction, or forfeiture of the person's property, and in any proceeding preliminary to that proceeding, including coroner's inquest, grand jury proceedings, and proceedings relating to mental health commitments, the presiding judicial officer shall appoint a qualified interpreter to assist the person disabled in communication and any witness disabled in communication throughout the proceedings.”

Subd. 2. Further states “Following the apprehension or arrest of a person disabled in communication for an alleged violation of criminal law, the arresting officer, sheriff or other law enforcement official shall immediately make necessary contacts to obtain a qualified interpreter and shall obtain an interpreter at the earliest possible time at the place of detention. A law enforcement officer shall, with the assistance of the interpreter, explain to the person disabled in communication, all charges filed against the person, and all procedures relating to the person's detainment and release.”


1. U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Communicating with People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: ADA Guide for Law Enforcement Officers, located online at www.ada.gov/lawenfcomm.htm

2. Minnesota Department of Human Service: edocs.dhs.state.mn.us/lfserver/Public/DHS-7438-ENG

3. Minnesota State Statutes: www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/611.32

“Ask The Chief” allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

Submit your question to askthe.policechief@ci.red-wing.mn.us.

Generally one answer a week is posted RWPD social media sites and printed in the Red Wing Republican Eagle.