A review by the federal Justice Department's Office for Civil Rights found that the New York Police Department often fails to ensure that New Yorkers who do not speak English have critical access to certified interpreters when seeking police assistance, reports the New York Times. The 10-month review concluded that the department is not fully complying with federal civil rights laws and must do more to provide non-English speakers with “meaningful access to its services.”
“It is clear the department needs to take further action to ensure that it adequately provides language assistance services to people with limited English proficiency,” Michael L. Alston, director of the civil rights office, wrote in the conclusion of the 43-page report. The report was sent to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly on Nov. 8 along with instructions to develop timelines and goals for remedying the multiple deficiencies found in the review. Police officials said that while some points in the report “may bear some merit,” they strongly disputed the findings that the department was out of compliance.