Interpreters Offer Solutions for BPD Language Barriers


BLOOMINGTON, IN. As WFIU’s Emily reports in part two of her  series “Interpreting the Law,” there are steps a city with limited resources can take to improve access.

Under Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act, any group funded by the federal government is required to provide what’s called “meaningful access” to services for citizens of a different national origin.  Courts have since ruled language is an element of national origin and thus must be considered.

The Bloomington Police Department receives federal grant money, meaning it’s subject to Title 6 and must attempt to find translators who can communicate with those whom officers question during the course of an investigation.  Currently, the department has only two officers who speak Spanish — just one of many languages spoken in a community with an internationally-recognized university.  BPD Captain Joe Qualters said taking an officer off duty for interpretation or language training would cost the department money and create a gap in patrolling…

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