A.G. Schneiderman Announces Landmark Agreement with Nassau County Police Department to Strengthen Language Access Services
Department’s Agreement Will Strengthen Translation And Interpretation Services For A Growing Limited English Proficient (LEP) Community; Schneiderman: My Office Is Committed To Ensuring That All New Yorkers Have Meaningful Access To Vital Law Enforcement Services
(New York, N.Y.) - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced an agreement with the Nassau County Police Department, one of the largest police departments in the country, to strengthen language access services for County residents who are limited English proficient (LEP). Today’s agreement will help bring about the institutionalization of best practices across all of the Department’s precincts and ensure that officers will provide interpretation and translation services to LEP individuals.
“Access to our state’s justice system should not depend on the ability to read or write English. The Nassau County Police Department’s proactive efforts stand as a model for all other law enforcement agencies across New York State and their efforts illustrate the steps necessary to ensure that justice is not compromised by language barriers,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Working in cooperation with our office, Nassau County has put in place a language access program that will strengthen and enhance access to police services for thousands of people on Long Island.”
In cooperation with the Attorney General’s Office, the Nassau County Police Department agreed to improve its existing language access policies for individuals who are limited English proficient. Going forward, the Department will provide all necessary interpretation and translation services for victims, witnesses and subjects; take meaningful steps to identify and recruit bilingual officers; conduct training for both current and new officers regarding the revised language access policy and protocols; make available translated materials and public notices; and regularly convene with the Attorney General’s Office to discuss the successfulness of its language access program.
According to Census data, approximately two and a half million New Yorkers do not speak English as their primary language and have a limited ability to read, speak, write or understand English. Over 11% of Nassau County’s residents speak English less than “very well.” The Police Department’s strengthened language access program will help ensure that individuals have full access to vital police services, regardless of their language ability.
Nassau Police Department Chief Steven Skrynecki noted, “The Department is committed to ensuring that all officers and civilian employees that have ongoing contact with the public are effectively able to communicate with those seeking assistance whether making complaints; or during victim interviews; as witnesses or subjects of criminal investigations; when issuing safety alerts or public service announcements; or during traffic stops.”
“Today’s agreement spreads the message loud and clear that the immigrant community is not forgotten,” said Lucia Gomez-Jimenez, Executive Director of La Fuente Long Island Civic Participation Project. “We want to thank Attorney General Schneiderman and the Nassau County Police Department for taking this important step to protect the rights of those New Yorkers who do not speak English well. We expect other agencies in the state to follow this excellent example.”
Jason E. Starr, Esq., Nassau County Chapter Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union said, “New York is the most linguistically diverse state in the country and this agreement reflects a commitment to ensuring that Nassau County is a safe and welcoming environment for all of the members of our community. We commend both the Nassau County Police Department and the Attorney General’s office for their efforts and look forward to ensuring that this commitment is realized.”
The matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Allegra Chapman and Clare Norins under the supervision of Civil Rights Bureau Chief Kristen Clarke and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Janet Sabel.
The Civil Rights Bureau is committed to promoting civil rights compliance across New York State. To file a complaint with the Bureau, contact 212-416-8250 or Civil.Rights@ag.ny.gov.