The Justice Department is reviewing how the New York Police Department interacts with people who do not speak English, focusing on whether language barriers play a role in matters like car stops, emergency calls, arrests, crime prevention, and the filing of complaints, the New York Times reports. Federal officials described it as a routine audit to determine whether the police department is complying with federal civil rights laws.
The police departments of Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia are among those that have been audited, but this will be the first review in New York. The reviews typically last about six months and usually result in recommendations for improvements. None so far have led to a reduction in federal grants, though that is a potential penalty. Some advocates have questioned the adequacy of the New York department's dealings with people who do not speak English, particularly regarding victims of domestic violence. Department spokesman Paul Browne said the agency increasingly is seeking creative ways to make inroads with foreign speakers, in areas including police officer recruitment and community affairs, as well as in patrol functions.