Recognizing Communication Impairment Program

The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office offers a program designed to aid deputies in better communicating with drivers with certain medical conditions during a traffic stop.

Medical conditions, such as Asperger’s Syndrome, affect a person’s ability to communicate when under stress, which may occur during a traffic stop. Though unintentional, the driver with the condition may not be able to properly communicate during the officer contact. The driver may appear to be uncooperative or agitated, when in fact their actions are the result of the medical disorder. Hearing impairment is an example of another medical condition that can affect the actions of a driver as they may not understand the deputy clearly.  This program is aimed at helping the deputy initially recognize that the driver suffers from a condition such as these that may impair communication ability and help the deputy better understand the situation in order to communicate effectively.

To participate, a licensed driver in Ouachita Parish must first obtain a written diagnosis of the medical condition from their doctor on the physician’s letterhead stationary. The driver will then bring the written diagnosis to the Sheriff’s Administration Office in the Ouachita Courthouse Annex and submit the letter with an application to enroll in the program.  Upon approval, the driver will receive a window decal for the rear window of their vehicle. The application information will be in an electronic file at the Sheriff’s Office should it be needed. This decal will let a deputy know the driver suffers from a disorder that may cause communication issues when the deputy contacts the driver. The driver will also receive a wallet sized ID card.  The enrollment information will be maintained in an electronic file at OPSO and available to the deputy if needed.

“The focus of the program is to help deputies know prior to contact if a driver suffers from a condition causing communication difficulties that might otherwise be interpreted as the driver being uncooperative or non-compliant” said Sheriff Jay Russell. “This will help avoid any misunderstandings of the driver’s actions that are caused by the medical disorder.”

For more information or to register for the program, contact Glenn Springfield at the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office, phone 318-329-1200.