Queens, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed Assemblymember David I. Weprins bill, A4000 preventing the New York City Police Department (NYPD) from forcing its members who require hearing assistance devices to retire, into law on Friday. The legislation amends the administrative code of the city of New York to exclude members of the police force who use hearing aids from the definition of disabled and prevents NYPD personnel who can perform their duties from unjustly being terminated.
The legislation was initially inspired by Deputy Inspector Dan Carione, who was forced into retirement after the NYPD began implementing a ban on hearing aids for existing officers in 2009. Members of New Yorks finest work in noisy environments where gun shots, construction, and even the sounds of the Subway can cause hearing loss over time. The ban on hearing devices put officers and the public at risk by discouraging members of the force from disclosing their hearing abilities and incentivizing them to remove devices while on duty to keep their jobs. The City of New York settled with plaintiffs affected by the policy in 2015 by allowing hearing impaired officers to take a department hearing test with hearing assistance devices. This legislation codifies the rights of hearing-impaired officers into law.
No member of the NYPD should be forced to retire because of a hearing issue that can be resolved with a simple and readily available device. As former Chair of the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, I stand with hearing impaired officers who bravely want to continue to serve their city, said Assemblyman David I. Weprin. I thank Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for signing this bill into law and being a strong advocate of the NYPD and the hearing impaired.