The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement with a Pennsylvania police department after launching a civil rights investigation into potential barriers for Spanish-speaking residents.
The Hazelton City Police Department will be required to update its operating procedures to include “appropriate language assistance” for non-English speakers and also print forms and notices in both English and Spanish, the DOJ said in a statement.
The department will also assess the language skills of bilingual officers and train staff on how and when to access interpreters and translators.
The DOJ initially launched its investigation after a resident reported having to rely on his young son and a co-worker to communicate with police officers on two separate occasions.
According to the DOJ, the investigation was carried out under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin by recipients of federal assistance.”
“Timely and accurate communication between limited-English-proficient residents and police officers is essential to public safety,” said Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
“The changes required by this agreement will benefit crime victims and witnesses, but also help police officers do their jobs,” Clarke said.
“Our office is proud to have joined with the Civil Rights Division on this important case,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Bruce Brandler said. “Ensuring that all individuals can communicate with law enforcement officers benefits all involved and is fundamental to our democracy.”
Read Full Article from The Hill (DC) (06/01/21)
Author: Choi, Joseph
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