Impact of Language Access and the Requirements of Title VI on Law Enforcement

Published by: Michael P. LaRiviere, Victim Services, Salem Police Department

Federal law (Title VI) requires law enforcement to utilize qualified interpreters for any interrogation or taking of a formal statement where the suspect or witness’ legal rights could be adversely impacted .The common use of bilingual police officers does not satisfy this requirement. The failure to utilize qualified interpreters increases risk to officer and community safety, jeopardizes criminal investigations and prosecutions, and can result in the loss of Federal Funding. This webinar will discuss the widespread problem of police failure to access qualified interpreters and the problems associated with using unqualified interpreters such as bilingual officers, children, community members, etc. The presenter will explain how Salem Police Department, with the help of the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) and the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender Based Violence (API-GBV) has addressed this issue. Today, the Salem Police Department has access to numerous qualified interpreters both sworn and civilian who can interpret in ten languages.

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