Language access is finally making some strides in Nassau County, as police have implemented “LanguageLine” interpretation services in their patrol vehicles to enhance community policing, as reported by Newsday.
The LanguageLine service has already been available at police facilities, but will now be in NCPD cars, with planned expansions to other officers and units. The service runs on department iPhones, through which officers can make audio or video calls for translation in more than 350 languages, as well as American Sign Language.
Similarly, Suffolk County is issuing tablets with a language translation program to its officers, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) report issued this month. Suffolk County Police has been under DOJ scrutiny as part of a 2014 agreement in the aftermath of the racially-motivated killing of Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero.
“This is community policing on steroids,” Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder told reporters on Wednesday. “When a cop is on the street, he doesn’t have the availability of a translator.”
Cheryl Keshner, senior paralegal and community advocate with the Empire Justice Center pointed out that law enforcement agencies are mandated by law to provide language access services. Though it’s taken some time to implement, she’s glad to see Nassau County Police Department (NCPD) providing resources to increase communications between police and residents.
“I hope the NCPD provides the requisite training so that officers understand how and when to provide language assistance and also how to work with an interpreter. If done properly, this will be of great help to the community,” Keshner told Long Island Wins.