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Ban on Hearing-Aids Forcing Early Retirement of Seasoned Cops

Ban on Hearing-Aids Forcing Early Retirement of Seasoned Cops

New York Times via YellowBrix [Premium]

June 20, 2011

He said he sought a hearing aid about three years ago when he was given command of the Queens division of the Internal Affairs Bureau. His new office, in Queens Plaza, was next to the elevated tracks, and the noise compounded his hearing difficulties.

When Mr. Carione asked for a hearing aid, the Police Department obliged, sending him to an audiologist and paying for the $3,000 device. As a result, Mr. Carione could hear again on his right side, he said. But a few months later, at a follow-up visit, a department surgeon told him the hearing aid could mean the end of his career.

When he later learned that the police pension fund’s medical board would retire him, he recalled, “I wept and I begged them to put me back to work.”

Mr. Carione and Mr. Phillips both have at least 20 years on the job, a term of service after which many police officers retire because they are entitled to a pension at half-pay. Both, however, are asking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to seek to have them reinstated. Mr. Carione said he always thought of himself as a “lifer” and had planned to stay in the department until he was 63, the mandatory retirement age.

Mr. Phillips, who was a sergeant in the Bronx, said he began to lose his hearing in October 2008, after he was assigned to police a loud, whistle-blowing protest by hundreds of construction workers.

After complaining of hearing problems, he was fitted in October 2009 with two hearing aids, each with a small clear tube that runs along the outside of his ear. Although he was initially sent back out on the streets with the Bronx Task Force, he was forced to retire in March.

“They told me that a perp can knock your hearing aids out,” said Mr. Phillips, using police slang for a criminal. “But eyeglasses can be knocked off, too. I contend that if you draw your weapon, you’re better off not having hearing aids than not having eyeglasses.”

Thomas Graham, a former deputy chief, wore a hearing aid, and he said he knew of no policy forbidding them during his 37 years on the force.

“If you wanted a hearing aid, as long as it’s not pink and dangling out of your ear, nobody is going to bother you over it.” said Mr. Graham, who retired last year at age 63.

It is unclear exactly what prompted the Police Department’s crackdown on the use of hearing aids. After Mr. Carione was told he would be retired, he lobbied top departmental officials unsuccessfully, trying to persuade them to rethink the policy.

Many officials were briefed on his case, Ms. Meenan said, including the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly. Mr. Kelly himself wears hearing aids, but as a member of the department’s civilian leadership, he is exempt from its physical and age-related requirements.

  • Christmas_2008_top_half_max50


    over 2 years ago


    I just read articles that showed the IRS did this to at least ONE of their agents and so did the US Marshalls!

  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max50_max50


    about 3 years ago


    What? Say again? Oh, I am now understanding your idiocy.

  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max50_max50


    about 3 years ago


    There will always be someone somewhere to stir the pot so others can get screwed. Sounds like Politicans are at it again.

  • Img00040-20110204-1641_max50


    about 3 years ago


    I don't like this one bit. I am deaf, and university police officer at Gallaudet University. I am strongly believe that anyone, with hearing loss, CAN do the job regardless if he or she can't hear, but he or she can SEE and other officers will be his or her "ears", he or she will be their "eyes" Their department need to find another way, for example, provide him or her a department pager in order to communicate with dispatchers, officers, and watch commander/supervisors. Team work is essential, they will be fine.

    Or transferring him or her to K-9 unit, K-9 will be her or his "ears" et cetera. Be creative.

    They need to "open" their mind, and find another way to providing an accommodation for their seasoned officers with hearing loss or new officer with a hearing loss/deaf.

    In my opinion, we can't afford to losing all seasoned officers because of their hearing loss.

  • Image_max50


    about 3 years ago


    This is the biggest crock of (you know what) that I've ever heard! Why is wearing a hearing aid justification to get rid of officers? What's next NYPD - officers who wear glasses???? Why don't you focus on the REAL problems within your agency instead of ending the careers of decent officers who want to do their jobs.

  • Logo_20bus_20card_max50


    about 3 years ago


    There goes the experience - why retire an experienced officer when they could be placed in a different role and still contribute. Sounds like to me some nitwit in the risk analysis department decided an officer with a hearing loss was a high risk and easy to discard. Well common sense no longer applies in any aspect of life I guess!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago

    I thought that a Department would do more for they LEO's then force them to retire if then loss there hearing form a job related issue. It doesn't seem that anyone is safe there with a hearing loss. Wonder if that holds true for the cheifs and commissioner also.

  • Az_phx_motorcade1a_max50


    about 3 years ago


    I've always wanted to work for NYPD, but my hearing loss is from riding a police motorcycle. They should support those officers, not kick them out.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago


    I am near-sighted but always qualified expert on the range. Heck, I got the top shot award when I was in Corrections during basic training for that job. My hearing is good enough that I can hear movements and noises like an argument or fight in progress going on inside a residence, but I have occasional trouble distinguishing words in a noisy environment. Part of my loss is due to not having believed in or worn hearing protection until I was in my thirties. Since my teens, I had always worried that I might freak out in a shootout (especially indoors) if exposed to the loudness of gunfire without being used to it. This was before I had experienced the reality of auditory exclusion when you fire a gun in a time of great fear or stress. I got good evaluations prior to retiring and was noted for being observant and made some good arrests of auto breakers and others who were about to commit serious crimes. Sometimes, that sixth sense (we all have) is a great little guide in finding people about to commit a crime or who have just committed one.

    I hope NYPD gets its butt scorched over this wrongful decision.

  • 1979_max50


    about 3 years ago


    My how times have changed. I am not THAT old but I do remember when i was in the military I was told that I could not be a forward gunner on a PBR because I wore glasses and I had an upper plate, both of which I might lose in battle. When I applied for the Police Department I was restricted as to where I could go because my vision was either not 20/20 or no worse than 20/40 without glasses or I was under 6' tall or I was outside of my height/weight ration or simply because I did not live inside the city limits. You had to meet certain requirements and physical abilities and there were no exceptions, period. The simply fact that I wore glasses kept me from even applying to many departments and the fact that my vision was less than 20/40 without glasses even more departments were excluded and even some states! Florida was one of them back in the 70's as one Dept. really wanted me but could not obtain a waiver for the State vision standard! Yes some things needed to change but lets also be reasonable as to the extent of your disabilities and how them may effect your ability to perform your duties without certain senses and/or body parts.

  • Fallen_20heroes_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Total BS!!! I am a 16yr veteran of my department and I AM HEARING IMPAIRED! I wear Aids in both ears and it has never effected my job performance. The officers on my department are not worried about my hearing ability and would stand up my side anytime anywhere. It actually helps cause my ability to reads lips has caught several people trying to tell others what to say. My hearing aids have noise suppression built in so if I was involved in a shooting they would shut off and turn right back on with no ringing and my hearing is still there unlike others that have to rely on adrenalin to push them past the ringing.
    It goes back to if you don't wear them and don't understand the actual handicap then don't judge the person.

  • Img_20111016_163737_max50


    about 3 years ago


    I could MAYBE see new hires may not being allowed but seriously, people that are already on the force should NEVER had been terminated because of a hearing aid.

  • Ericm60_max50


    about 3 years ago


    It sounds as if the Americans with disabilities act should have some impact on this !
    I have only seen a few departments with hearing standards.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50


    about 3 years ago


    Combine hearing loss with auditory exclusion ( which can happen in very stressful situations, especially shoot-outs ), and it can be a recipe for disaster. I'd hate to not hear someone yelling a warning to me, or vice-versa. The flip side of this coin is to place officers in jobs where the hearing loss isn't a liability or danger to others; I would hate to lose the ability to use the veteran officers' experiences in other areas, such as training, etc.

  • White_shirt_max50


    about 3 years ago


    I hope the EEOC does their job.

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