St. Paul to pay $95K to settle lawsuits over police failure to provide qualified sign-language interpreter

The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday approved a $95,000 payment to a woman who sued the city claiming police didn't provide a certified sign-language interpreter for her when she tried to file a report.

Catrina Hooper tried to file a domestic violence report with the St. Paul Police Department in 2014. Hooper, who is deaf, said when she went to meet with police and file a report, they failed to provide the necessary auxiliary aids to effectively communicate with her, and didn't allow her to file the report using a certified interpreter.

With the settlement of the two lawsuits Hooper filed, St. Paul also said SPPD will update its policy within 30 days to explicitly state only certified interpreters will be provided by SPPD for interviews and meetings with deaf people. SPPD will also ensure full and equal access to and benefit from police services, and to ensure certified interpreters and other appropriate auxiliary aids are provided when requested and necessary for communication, according to the settlement. The settlement says SPPD will also give primary consideration to the deaf or hard-of-hearing person's request, unless SPPD has an equally effective alternative.

As part of the agreement, the city won't admit its policies or practices violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.