Interview with NYPD’s Dan Corione
Deputy Inspector Dan Carione of the New York City Police Department made headlines this year when he successfully challenged the NYPD’s ban on police officers who use hearing aids. His victory was a cause for celebration for anyone who has a disability or cares about the quality of life for people with disabilities.
At the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC), we were euphoric. A talented cop was rightfully reinstated onto the force. And equal opportunity for people with hearing loss is now one step closer.
Deputy Inspector Carione receives his hearing services at CHC. It’s been a privilege getting to know him. He’s a thoughtful and principled individual who embraced his unexpected role as a hearing loss advocate. So much so that we are honoring him at our Annual Meeting.
On December 3rd, Deputy Inspector Carione will receive the Irving Berelson President’s Award for his advocacy work that has led to landmark changes in NYPD policy and public attitudes toward people with hearing loss.
We’re happy to report that his advocacy efforts continue. In this just-published interview with CHC, Dan shares new details about his battle with the NYPD and his coming to terms with his own hearing loss. He also offers powerful advice for others with hearing loss challenged by obstacles and unsure of the path ahead.
Q. How long have you been with the NYC Police Department?
A. I’m with the NYPD since 1987—my entire adult life. Started as a college cadet and upon graduating Brooklyn College was sworn in as a police officer.
Q. What does being a police officer mean to you?
A. Being a police officer enables me to positively impact the lives of fellow New Yorkers. I started my career as a community beat officer. The lessons I learned in those early years—working with the communities, entering into partnerships—have served as a great foundation; although community fell out of favor, I never did abandon the practice, and I feel this is the reason I have been so successful throughout my 28 years.
Q. When and how did your hearing health become an issue?
A. in 1996 I was involved with a line-of-duty gun battle. My partner discharged her firearm five times inches from my right ear, causing my hearing loss.
Q. How did you feel about the possibility that your police career might be over?
A. When I finally overcame the stigma and my own vanity and received a hearing aid in 2008, I thought it was the best thing and felt silly for having hid my hearing loss for so long. However, soon after the NYPD moved to sever me from employment based on an antiquated, ridiculous hearing aid ban. Simply stated, I was devastated. I fought, while employed, to remain for more than two years but exhausted all available avenues in 2010 and was promptly severed from employment from the NYPD. After 24 years of unblemished, highly decorated service, I felt the NYPD had converted me into binary code 0’s and 1’s and, in the end, viewed me as a cold number. It was a very dark and disappointing place and time for me.
Q. What was your experience receiving services at CHC?
A. At a time when I was at my lowest point (the time the NYPD was forcing me out) the Center for Hearing and Communication treated me with respect and dignity. Their audiologists and staff returned to me a feeling of whole. Their encouragement and compassion helped heal me and returned a sense of peace, allowing me to feel like a productive human being. One who, with the benefits of a hearing aid, could continue to contribute as a valued member of society.
Q. How did you react to the decision that allowed you to return to the police force?
A. When the city settled this case, I was filled with relief and excitement. Although I knew what the Department had done was wrong and believed in the merits of our legal argument, I lived day by day with the very real possibility that we might not win. I live by the creed that, in life, you don’t fight the fights you know you will win, but rather the fights which are worth fighting.
On behalf of all my fellow officers who are subjected to terrible levels of damaging noise in the course of their patrol duties, the tens of thousands of our brave servicemen and women returning from 10+ years of war with combat-related hearing loss (most of which are looking to become law enforcement officers), and the untold numbers of young hearing-disabled Americans who dream of public safety careers, I say this fight was worth fighting.
Q. How have your peers on the police force reacted?
A. I have received a lot of phone calls from a great many police officers with the NYPD, all congratulating me for having fought the good fight. I’m back now five months working at Patrol Borough Brooklyn North which is the overhead command for all Brooklyn North Precincts. I’m working with a fine collection of men and women. As I have many productive years ahead of me, I’m working hard to get my career back on track. But at the same time, I intend to continue advocating for the hearing disabled and to continue being a positive role model and ambassador of the NYPD.
Q. Do you have a message for others with hearing loss struggling to overcome obstacles?
A. My message to all those who are afflicted with hearing loss is to be brave and fight for what it is you want. Dare greatly and don’t allow anyone to define who you are or what you can do. It is often said the hearing disabilities are the invisible disability, To that I say we are not invisible! Don’t let anyone treat you as such. Hearing aid technology and medical advancements are on our side with great developments underway. Believe in yourself and push through what ever obstacles are presented. And lastly, you are not alone; there are many great organizations available to help. Among them are the Center for Hearing and Communication and (CHC) and Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). And, of course, I will always be willing to speak with anyone in need. I can be reached at DCarione@aol.com.
Deputy Inspector Dan Corione will accept the prestigious Irving Berelson President’s Award at CHC’s 105th Annual Meeting, December 3rd, at 4pm in Lower Manhattan. Be there for Corione’s acceptance speech and that of other industry advocates being honored for their positive impact on the quality of life for people with hearing loss. Keynote speaker will be Victor Calise, Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.