Message to Suffolk: Improve Police Services and Provide Language Access to All Residents


Central Islip, NY—Community members and advocates will hold a press conference on Wednesday, September 21, at 10am outside the Third Precinct, located at 1630 Third Avenue in Bay Shore.

Representatives from the Long Island Immigrant Alliance (LIIA), the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition (LILAC), NY Communities for Change (NYCC), and SEPA Mujer, among others, will address the findings of the recent U.S. Department of Justice letter to County Executive Steve Levy on the Suffolk County Police Department’s need to improve services to immigrant communities.

The letter examines the underreporting of hate crimes, warns against inquiring about immigrant status, and provides several recommendations for improving language access. Individuals who have had difficulty in obtaining services will be sharing some of their experiences, including members of NY Communities for Change, who report that their request for an interpreter was denied at a recent community meeting at the Third Precinct.

The Long Island Language Advocates Coalition has been meeting with the Suffolk County Police Department for the past year in an attempt to break down barriers to immigrant access to the police. Advocates are
demanding, at the very least, that interpretation and translation services be made immediately available for all crime victims and at all community meetings to encourage full and timely reporting of crimes.

“Although there have been some improvements in their written policy, the SCPD still has a long way to go in meeting the needs of people with limited English proficiency,” said Cheryl Keshner of the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition.

“The precinct needs to offer translation service to the Hispanic community because there are so many of us in the Central Islip/Brentwood area,” said NYCC member and Central Islip resident Alba Aquino. “In the interest of fairness, justice, and humanity, and as Suffolk County taxpayers, we demand these services.”

As noted the in the September 13 letter from the Justice Department to Suffolk County, “As recipients of federal financial assistance, and given the growing Spanish-speaking population in Suffolk County, the SCPD must insure that it has language assistance services in place and that it provides them at no cost to Limited English Proficiency individuals.”

Here’s the information on the press conference:

10am, Wednesday, September 21

Third Precinct Suffolk County Police Bureau, 1630 5th Ave, Bay Shore, NY

Long Island Immigrant Alliance, Long Island Language Advocates Coalition, New York Communities for Change, Sepa Mujer, The Workplace Project

Advocates will outline key provisions of the DOJ report that need to be enacted and the need for enforcement, even of provisions that have supposedly already been done. Community residents will describe police interactions that illustrate the need for change.

Image courtesy of appleswitch via Flickr.

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