NYPD Falling Short In Helping Crime Victims Who Don’t Speak English


The New York Police Department has tried to stay at the forefrotn of the effort of dealing with non-English-speaking crime victims, but having services doesn't ensure they will be used, says the New York Times. Some New Yorkers say that in the frantic, often frightening minutes just after a crime has occurred, their pleas for assistance in their native language have been ignored by officers. While help arrived swiftly after a call to 911, some officers didn't summon a bilingual colleague, find an impartial bilingual bystander, or call the interpretation service the city uses for such situations.

Domestic violence calls, already fraught with confusion and tension, have been particularly prone to language lapses, say victim advocates. Several women said that without an interpreter, their attempts to report crimes were stifled. Victim advocates say that for all its efforts and intentions, the police department is falling short of its goals, and of a 2008 mayoral order requiring it to provide non-English speakers with “meaningful access” to its services in the city's most frequently spoken languages. “It's been a consistent problem,” said Dorchen Leidholdt of Sanctury for Families, which serves more than 10,000 domestic violence victims a year, three-quarters of whom are immigrants. “It's a critically urgent safety issue.”

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