SAMPLE FOR DISCUSSION PURPOSES SAMPLE FOR DISCUSSION PURPOSES
PLANNING TOOL: CONSIDERATIONS FOR CREATION OF A LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE POLICY AND
IMPLEMENTATION PLAN FOR ADDRESSING LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY
IN A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
A. POLICY STATEMENT
Police and Sheriffs’ Departments (Departments) may want to consider creating a short policy
statement that sets the tone and goal on language access in the agency. An example of what
such a statement could potentially include is the following:
It is the policy of the Department (Department) to take reasonable steps to
provide meaningful access to all individuals in any encounters with the Department
regardless of their national origin or limited ability to speak, read, write, or
understand English. A language assistance implementation plan and subsequent
directives/general orders [as appropriate for your agency] will detail the steps to be
taken in implementing this Policy.
B. WHO IS LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENT (LEP)?
LEP individuals do not speak English as their primary language and have a limited ability to read,
write, speak, or understand English.
? Many LEP persons are in the process of learning English and may read, write, speak,
and/or understand some English, but not proficiently.
? LEP status may be context-specific – an individual may have sufficient English language
skills to communicate basic information (name, address etc.) but may not have sufficient
skills to communicate detailed information (e.g., medical information, eyewitness
accounts, information elicited in an interrogation, etc.) in English.
C. BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
? Federal law prohibits national origin discrimination and requires federally assisted law
enforcement agencies to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to LEP
? Language barriers can put cases and lives at risk by impeding communications with LEP
victims, witnesses, suspects, and community members and by creating safety, evidentiary,
and ethical challenges for officers and others
? Language barriers can prevent LEP individuals from understanding their rights, complying
with the law, and receiving meaningful access to law enforcement services and information.
D. PLANNING DOCUMENTS
Law enforcement officials have several planning documents they could choose to create.
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? A general Policy could include the brief policy statement, as well as background
information and as many specifics as appropriate for the agency. This policy statement
could be the overarching document from which a management plan would flow.
? An Implementation Plan for managers could identify operational and management strategies
and planning options for implementing the Policy. The Plan could be attached to the Policy
? Shorter directives [substitute policy guidance, general orders, or other types of direct
communication with staff and managers regarding protocols and procedures, as appropriate
for your Department] could be created to flow from the Plan. These directives could set forth
clear expectations and procedures for staff and managers on how and when to access
language service options. Where appropriate, different directives might be issued to cover
different types of encounters, such as traffic stops, arrests, custodial interrogations, witness
interviews, detention, etc.
? Language resource lists, signs, instructions on internal websites, training, videos, and other
tips and tools could be created to help staff understand how and when to access and provide
E. FRAMEWORK FOR ASSESSING LANGUAGE SERVICE NEEDS
The starting point for the Department’s Language Assistance Implementation Plan is the four-
factor analysis and Guidance Document that the U.S. Department of Justice developed to assist
law enforcement agencies in creating language access plans.
(http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/cor/lep/DOJFinLEPFRJun182002.pdf) The Guidance also provides
examples of application of that analysis in law enforcement, particularly in Section A of the
Appendix. More details on the document and analysis, as well as specific law enforcement
examples, can be found at http://www.lep.gov.
1. The number or proportion of LEP persons encountered in the Department’s
jurisdiction/precinct etc., including any seasonal, tourism, or other variations in the LEP
2. The frequency of contact with LEP individuals;
3. The nature and importance of the various types of encounters the Department has with LEP
4. The resources available to the Department and the costs associated with providing language
While all law enforcement activities are important, the four-factor analysis allows the
Department to prioritize types of language services, and to ensure that appropriate language
assistance resources are promptly available where most needed.
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F. APPLICATION OF THE FOUR FACTORS
? The Policy and/or Plan could describe the demographic background or major language
groups encountered, including composition within each district or precinct, and any seasonal
variations, and/or trends.
? The Policy could identify language service options and Departmental priorities for the
provision of language services, based on the four-factor analysis. The Implementation Plan
and Directives could provide detailed information on the protocols for accessing language
services, vital documents to be translated, training, monitoring, and other specifics to
implement the Policy.
? Primary Language – The language in which an individual is most effectively able to
? Interpretation – The act of listening to a communication in one language and orally
converting it into another language, while retaining the same meaning. Interpreting is a
sophisticated skill needing practice and training, and should not be confused with simple
bilingualism. Even the most proficient bilingual individuals may require additional training
and instruction prior to serving as interpreters. Qualified interpreters are generally required
to have undergone rigorous and specialized training.
? Translation – The replacement of written text from one language into an equivalent written
text in another language. Translation also requires special knowledge and skills.
? Bilingual – The ability to speak two languages fluently and communicate directly and
accurately in both English and another language.
? Direct Communication – Monolingual communication in a language other than English
between a qualified bilingual Department employee or representative and an LEP individual
(e.g., Spanish to Spanish).
III. CONSIDER WHETHER THE DEPARTMENT SHOULD DESIGNATE A
RESPONSIBLE OFFICIAL AND PRECINCT-LEVEL COORDINATORS
If a Department decides to assign a Responsible Official/LEP Coordinator who reports to the Chief,
Sheriff, or some other high-ranking official, some of the responsibilities of that position could be, for
o Language assistance needs for the Department;
o Existing Departmental language assistance resources; and
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o Additional needed language assistance resources (bilingual officers, in-house
interpreters, contract interpreters, resource sharing with other agencies, volunteers, or
? Oversee the proper use of:
o Bilingual employees, including adopting and implementing standards and assessments for
qualifying Department employees as bilingual, training, tracking, and dispatching
qualified bilingual officers;
o Department interpreters, including adopting and implementing standards and assessments
to measure interpreter proficiency, and training, tracking, and dispatching qualified
Department interpreters; and
o Non-employee interpreters, including adopting and implementing standards for ensuring
qualifications of contract and other non-employee interpreters (in-person and telephonic),
and training, tracking, and utilization of such interpreters. ? Oversee translations, including identification of documents to translate, ensuring quality control,
securing translation services, ensuring access to translated documents, etc.
? Develop or recommend directives/general orders/protocols (or other appropriate documents) to
be followed by shift supervisors, field officers, dispatchers, and staff in situations involving LEP
? Provide for employee training on accessing all language assistance measures the Department will
? Identify and implement a system for receiving and responding to complaints/suggestions by
citizens and staff regarding improvements to language assistance measures.
? Exchange promising practices information with other law enforcement departments and other
? Review the Department’s progress in providing meaningful access to LEP persons, develop
reports, recommend modifications to this Plan and implementing directives/orders, as
? Oversee budgetary and procurement/contracting matters related to implementation of the policy.
The official responsible for language assistance services could be given the authority to delegate
responsibilities, as appropriate, to various Department employees but could retain ultimate
responsibility for oversight and implementation of the Plan.
Larger Departments with significant LEP populations may choose to designate precinct-level
responsible officials also.
The Plan and Directives should set forth the name and contact information of the Responsible
Officials, if the Department chooses to assign them.
III. LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE OPTIONS
In general, Departments have the following options to consider including in their plans for the
provision of language services:
A. ORAL LANGUAGE SERVICES
1. Direct Communication with LEP Individuals by Bilingual Staff
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o Often, the most efficient and cost-effective method for communicating with LEP
individuals is direct communication through qualified bilingual employees fluent both
in English and the LEP person’s language.
o Consider taking the following steps to ensure accurate communications:
? Creating written standards and adopting assessments for qualifying
Department employees as bilingual.
? Assessing fluency in both languages and in the terminology used by the
Department prior to designating a staff member as bilingual. A person may
be able to convey simple instructions or hold conversations in an LEP
individual’s primary language, but not be sufficiently proficient in that
language to perform more complicated tasks such as conducting interrogations,
taking statements, collecting evidence, or conveying rights or responsibilities.
These individuals are not yet “bilingual.”
? Providing initial and periodic training to bilingual employees on their role in
direct bilingual communication, code of conduct for bilingual
communications, and law enforcement terminology in other languages.
o Consider taking the following steps to improve effective utilization of bilingual
? Maintaining a directory of all qualified bilingual employees, including a list of
the non-English language(s) they speak and their contact information,
assignments, shifts, etc.
? Recruiting bilingual staff and considering pay differentials or other forms of
recognition for employees who do “double duty” as qualified bilingual
? Considering bilingual capabilities and language assistance needs of the
community (or, in the case of a call for assistance, the specific language
needed) in assignments and dispatch.
When language services are needed, the Department should use qualified interpretation
services when a non-bilingual employee/officer needs to communicate with an LEP person or
vice versa, when qualified bilingual employees are unavailable or en route, and when
available bilingual employees lack the skills, rank, or assignment to provide direct
a. Options to consider include:
? Staff interpreters (trained and qualified) who are employed by the
Department exclusively to perform interpretation services.
? Contract in-person interpreters, such as state and federal court interpreters,
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? Contract telephonic interpreters who provide interpretation according to Department guidelines. The language assistance implementation plan could
set forth telephonic interpretation options, and how to access them, including
use of telephonic or radio equipment to:
? Access employees, interpreters from other agencies, or others who
have been qualified as interpreters by the Department.
? Access commercial telephonic interpretation services. The Plan
will set forth information on access codes and assurances of
quality control for such services.
? Interpreters from other agencies with which the Department has a
resource-sharing or other formal arrangement to interpret according to
? Interpreters who also serve as bilingual sworn officers or employees and
have undergone training and passed Departmental language proficiency
assessments and rigorous training to serve dual roles as sworn
officers/civilian employees and interpreters.
? A bilingual person may be sufficiently proficient in English and a
foreign language to have direct monolingual conversations in that
foreign language with an LEP individual, but not sufficiently
proficient to convert orally what is said in the foreign language
back into English. Likewise, the person may be perfectly fluent
in both languages, but unskilled in interpreting and untrained in
the various modes of interpretation and appropriate use of those
modes (simultaneous, consecutive, sight).
? Consider creating written standards for assessing and qualifying
bilingual Department employees as interpreters, and provide or
secure training for qualified employees on the role of a
Department interpreter, the modes of interpretation, the code of
conduct for interpretation, and the use of law enforcement
terminology in other languages.
? Bilingual officers used for the dual purpose of interpreting should
inform the LEP person that they are also officers in the
? Volunteer interpreters who have undergone training and meet
Departmental language proficiency standards, and have formal
arrangements with the Department to perform interpretation services.
? Family members, neighbors, friends, acquaintances, bystanders, and
children generally should not be used for interpretation, especially for
communications involving witnesses, victims, and potential suspects, or
in investigations, collection of evidence, negotiations, or other sensitive
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situations, except temporarily in unforeseen, emergency circumstances
while awaiting professional interpretation or bilingual officers.
b. Choosing Between Telephonic and In-Person Interpretation
? When interpretation is needed, in-person interpreters may be preferred
(Department employees or contract) for lengthy interactions and interactions
with significant potential consequences to the LEP person, such as interviews
? In general, when interpretation is needed, telephonic interpretation services
are most appropriate for brief encounters, situations in which no qualified in-
person interpreter is available, while awaiting a qualified in-person interpreter,
and during telephone conversations with LEP persons.
B. WRITTEN COMMUNICATIONS [TRANSLATIONS]
1. General Forms and Documents.
Using the four-factor analysis, the Department should translate the vital written materials into
languages of frequently–encountered LEP groups (considering literacy of LEP populations in
their language). Vital information from those documents should be interpreted when
translations are not available for LEP or when oral communication is more effective, such as in
the case of LEP individuals whose primary language is traditionally an oral one.
The Plan could set forth the documents to be translated, including languages and timeframes
for such translations. For instance, the Department could consider the following format and
types of documents for translations of general materials:
FORMS/DOCUMENTS [Identify specifically, as appropriate] Languages Timeframe
Documents relating to motor vehicle stops, including citations, accident reports, notices of rights, warnings, and general information:
Documents relating to accessing emergency services, calling for police assistance, etc.:
Miranda warnings and consent/waiver forms:
Documents relating to intake/detention/incarceration:
Notices and posters containing important information on the availability of language services:
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Documents relating to criminal citations, summons, and warrants:
Documents relating to complaints:
Consider planning options for the following:
? Obtaining Translations: Procedures for obtaining the initial translations, and directives could
tell staff how and when to access these translations, as well as how to request additional
? “Taglines”: Procedures for putting information on how to access oral language services in the
appropriate languages somewhere prominently in the English language form if full translations
are not reasonable.
? Quality Control: Quality control protocol, such as assuring initial translations and second
checks by qualified individuals.
? Updating: Steps to consider demographic changes, new information/documents, or
modifications to exiting documents, leading to the need for additional translations.
2. Specific Written Communications Between LEP Persons and the Department (such as
complaints filed in a language other than English, written instructions, warnings, orders,
a. The Department should take reasonable steps to ensure document translation and
b. The more significant the communication to the LEP person, the greater the need to
ensure competent and timely translations.
c. When translations are not possible or reasonable, important information should be
conveyed verbally in the relevant language. Taglines in the appropriate languages
could inform individuals how to receive oral language assistance to understand the
contents of document.
IV. PERSONNEL/HUMAN RESOURCE PLANNING
The Plan for management could include planning for personnel and human resource matters, such as:
? Consideration of language needs and inclusion of second language skills in recruitment, hiring,
and promotion plans and criteria.
? Consideration of pay differentials for bilingual/interpreter staff.
? Tracking composition of staff by language ability.
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? Promoting language sensitive deployment of bilingual staff and interpreters to match skills with
? Providing training opportunities to improve existing language skills for staff.
The Plan should include name and contact information for persons responsible for implementing
these measures, as appropriate.
V. TRAINING AND TOOLS FOR EMPLOYEES
The Department should consider providing:
? Easily-accessed information to employees having contact with the general public on the
different types of language service options and how and when to access language services.
? Training all staff and field officers coming into contact with LEP persons, as well as
administrators and supervisors in charge of any aspect of the Language Assistance Policy,
the Implementation Plan, and all other Department directives/general orders, and tools
pertaining to the Policy or Plan.
? Including in-service training for veteran officers and academy training for new hires on the
Language Assistance Policy and Implementation Plan, directives, and tools.
? Including role-playing based on actual law enforcement encounters involving language
barriers, and providing opportunities to practice accessing language resources.
? Including information on categories of people who should not be used for interpretation
purposes (including family members, children, neighbors, friends, alleged perpetrators,
witnesses, acquaintances, and bystanders), especially in situations involving communication
with witnesses, victims, or potential suspects. Advising avoidance of using these people, if
at all possible, except in unforeseen, emergency situations, in order to prevent issues of
confidentiality, conflicts of interest, impartiality, or risk of compromising evidence or safety.
? Training qualified bilingual employees and interpreters, contract interpreters, shared
interpreter resources from other agencies, and community volunteers who may provide oral
or written language assistance services for LEP persons on confidentiality and conflict of
interest requirements, necessary law enforcement terminology, and other important
guidelines as more specifically set forth in Section III, above.
VI. POLICIES ON INTERACTION WITH LEP INDIVIDUALS
The Plan should set forth how Department employees will use the language assistance measures
(bilingual officers, interpreters, translators, etc.) in handling situations involving LEP individuals.
While knowledge of the entire Plan is helpful, officers and employees coming into contact with LEP
persons will mostly need to know what they are supposed to do in such situations, thus making
directives, training, and training tools (such as roll call videos and instructions that can be carried
easily) most valuable for those employees/officers.
1. The Plan and Directives should provide officers/employees with an order of preference for
using oral language assistance services, such as, for example:
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? Bilingual employees are to be requested/deployed first for direct monolingual
communication with LEP persons in their primary language. Bilingual employees who
are used to interpret between LEP persons and others must be qualified to do so.
? Staff interpreters are to be used when bilingual employees are unavailable, lack the
language capabilities, skills, or rank to be used/deployed.
? Contract interpretation services will be used where staff interpreters are unavailable or
lack the language capabilities, skills, or rank to be used/deployed.
? Family members, neighbors, friends, acquaintance, bystanders, and children should not
be used for interpretation, especially for communications involving witnesses, victims,
and potential suspects, or in investigations, collection of evidence, negotiations, or other
sensitive situations, except temporarily in unforeseen, emergency circumstances while
awaiting professional interpretation or bilingual officers.
However, the type of language assistance to be used may vary depending on the situation. The
Plan should reflect the need to ensure availability of the highest quality language assistance in
situations that may result in significant consequences for the LEP person or have potential safety
or evidentiary consequences.
2. Identifying and Preparing for Language Needs:
The Plan could include information on responsibility for ensuring that:
? All employees receive language identification cards and are trained in using these cards
to identify the primary language of LEP individuals.
? Information is disseminated on common languages encountered and for training
employees regarding language needs of the community served, as well as literacy rates
and/or issues regarding non-written languages.
? All employees know what to do if the LEP person’s language cannot be identified using
the cards (such as seeking the assistance of telephonic or other services).
? Officers understand that they should communicate through interpreters using the first
person (i.e., “please tell me your name, address . . .” rather than, “please ask him his
name, address . . . ”), and that it is their job, not the interpreter’s, to develop and ask any
? The dispatch unit/supervisor maintains a current list of all bilingual employees and staff
interpreters, etc., which includes their availability, shift, and/or other contact information.
Consider setting forth reasonable procedures for ensuring language assistance in general, and
specifically in the following areas:
A. 9-1-1 Communications with LEP Individuals – 9-1-1 communications should be conducted in
the language of the LEP caller. Officers dispatched to the scene should be made aware of language
assistance needs and be prepared to respond appropriately. Wherever practicable, bilingual officers
speaking the needed language should be dispatched.
Consider setting forth in the plan, as appropriate, responsibility for ensuring that the following are