Mangano: Police Proactively Assisting Non-English Speaking Residents

With a growing number of residents who have a limited ability to read, speak or understand English, the Nassau County Police Department is recommitting its efforts to expand and strengthen its language access services.

Beginning the New Year, the County’s Police Department, with the support of the New York State Attorney General’s Office, will implement policies and procedures to ensure that Nassau residents, with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), are provided access to all NCPD services, regardless of individual status. “It is vitally important that any barrier that may be preventing residents from accessing services be removed and that people feel they can approach officers and civilians in the police department with confidence,” said Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano.

“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," New York State 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.”

Some 14.6 percent of Nassau County’s 1,339,532 residents are identified as Hispanic. An estimated 11.2 percent of the County’s residents who are aged five and older have a limited ability to read, speak or understand English. As a result, LEP individuals may be unable to access police services in a timely, effective and accurate way. While NCPD has implemented some services, including use of a telephonic interpreter service, translation of some written materials and public notices, and the hiring of bilingual officers, plans are to strengthen other core services.

After consultation with the OAG, the County will institute training protocols to ensure meaningful access of services. “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 as subjects of criminal investigations; when issuing safety alerts or public service announcements; or during traffic stops,” said Nassau County Police Chief Steven Skrynecki.

In addition, policies regarding serving LEP communities will be distributed to all officers and civilian employees; steps will be taken to recruit, hire and retain bilingual NCPD officers and staff and to maintain a mechanism for testing the proficiency level of all bilingual officers and staff; vital documents and other materials made available through law enforcement entities, agencies and the courts will be translated and made available; and Personnel Complaint Forms will be made available at all NCPD buildings and on the NCPD website if the complaint relates to language access. Disposition of the complaint will be provided to the complainant in written form.