NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - It happens when a driver who is hard of hearing suddenly sees the flashing lights from a police cruiser pulling him over. The driver stops, but can not understand the commands from an approaching officer, who may have stopped the car for burned-out tail lights, or because it matches a vehicle involved in a crime.
City police this week began issuing cards to help people who have difficulty hearing, or are deaf, to more easily interact with officers on the street.
"Placards are available at New Brunswick Police Department headquarters that contain printed verbiage and pictures to help facilitate easier communication in the event that oral communication is limited," city officials said in a statement.
The cards, which are available in both English and Spanish, explain a person's difficulty in communicating and include phrases and symbols a person can point out to an officer.
For example, the card contains the phrases "I can not lip-read everything you say," and "Shining a light in my face makes it hard for me to understand you."
To indicate the best way to communicate, a person can identify a symbol for a sign language interpreter, or for cellphone texting, or for written questions.
On the back of each card are pictures that an officer can select, indicating that he needs a driver's license or registration, or he can point to a violation, such as a stop sign or speed limit sign. An officer can also point to symbols to ask if the person needs help with a flat tire or disabled car.
“The New Brunswick Police Department strives to ensure that a consistently high level of service is provided to all residents and visitors of our City,” police Director Anthony Caputo said in a statement.
South Brunswick police began issuing the same cards last month. The department said similar cards are used in other states
New Brunswick residents can get the printed placards at New Brunswick Police headquarters at 25 Kirkpatrick Street, or by calling (732) 745-5187, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.