A.G. Schneiderman Secures Agreement With Rochester Police Department Ensuring Equal Access To Law Enforcement Services

Agreement With Rochester Police Department Ensures Language Access For A Growing Limited English Proficient (LEP) Community

Schneiderman: My Office Is Committed To Promoting Access To Justice And Ensuring That All New Yorkers Have Full Access To Vital Law Enforcement Services

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced an agreement with the Rochester Police Department that will help strengthen language access services for residents who are limited English proficient (LEP). The agreement will improve the ability of officers in the Rochester Police Department to provide interpretation and translation services when needed. Rochester’s Police Department, one of the largest in New York State, protects a highly diverse population. 

“Our justice system requires that all New Yorkers have equal access to effective law enforcement, regardless of their language ability," Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Our office’s agreement with the Rochester Police Department illustrates the efforts necessary to ensure that the delivery of police services is not limited or restricted by language barriers.”

In cooperation with the Attorney General's Office, the Police Department has agreed to improve its existing language access policies for individuals who are limited English proficient. The Department will improve officers’ access to interpretation and translation services for victims, witnesses, and subjects; take meaningful steps to identify bilingual officers; conduct training for both current and new officers regarding the revised language access policy and protocols; make available translated materials and public notices in addition to those already provided, and regularly meet with the Attorney General's Office to discuss the success of its language access program. The Rochester Police Department, additionally, will refrain from contacting federal enforcement agencies solely for interpretation and/or translation services for matters outside its jurisdiction, unless circumstances require otherwise.

According to Census data, approximately two and a half million New Yorkers do not speak English as their primary language and have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English. More than eight percent of Rochester's residents speak English less than "very well." The Police Department's strengthened language access program will help ensure that individuals in its communities have full access to vital police services, regardless of language ability.

Rochester’s Chief of Police James Sheppard said, "The Rochester Police Department is dedicated to policing all segments of the community with a spirit of service. Part of that commitment is ensuring that all persons within our jurisdiction, regardless of nationality or ability to speak English, have equal access to police services. It is our mission to provide the best possible access to our services, and we are pleased to strengthen our policies and practices through this cooperative project with the Attorney General."

The matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Allegra Chapman with assistance from Debra Martin, Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Rochester Regional Office, under the supervision of Civil Rights Bureau Chief Kristen Clarke, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg, and Janet Sabel, First Deputy Attorney General of Affirmative Litigation.

The Civil Rights Bureau is committed to promoting civil rights compliance across New York State. To file a complaint with the Bureau, contact 212-416-8250 or Civil.Rights@ag.ny.gov.

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