This July the Mountain View Police Department strengthened their commitment to addressing language barriers that limited English proficient (LEP) community members may experience when trying to communicate with the police.
Chief Vermeer has agreed to strengthen their existing LEP Services Policy to ensure qualified bilingual officers, telephone interpreters or qualified civilian interpreters will be used in situations where officers encounter an LEP individual. The members of the Campaign for Language Access applaud Chief Scott Vermeer on his leadership and responsiveness to the language needs of the community.
“Every community member in Santa Clara County has a right to the safety and protection provided by the police regardless of the language they speak. Effective communication with victims and witnesses allows the police to investigate and solve crimes, therefore increasing the safety of our community,” stated Rolanda Pierre-Dixon, Chair of the Domestic Violence Council.
Santa Clara County is made up of people from diverse cultures, nationalities and ethnic groups. The 2010 U.S. Census estimates that approximately 36.8% of the county population was born outside of the United States and that 49.6% speak a language other than English at home (population 5 years and over). This written policy sends a message to our diverse community that their safety and well-being are a top priority for law enforcement.
“With the Mountain View community’s proud history of diversity, the Police Department takes pride in its efforts to effectively serve all members of our community. In addition to a Limited English Proficiency Services policy that has been in effect since 2009, the Mountain View Police Department remains open to ways upon which to improve our outreach to the community in the area of multilingual services. To that end, our Department has established patrol procedures for frontline first responders which will enable them to determine when Limited English Proficiency services should be requested. These procedures will be published in the Department’s patrol manual as a reference tool for all Mountain View police officers,” stated Scott S.G. Vermeer, Police Chief/Assistant City Manager – Public Safety.
Key points of the policy include the following:
- Free language assistance to the public.
- Interviews will be conducted in the individual’s primary language by a qualified interpreter.
- Qualified interpreters include bilingual officers, telephone interpreters and civilian interpreters.
- Law enforcement officers will not use children, family members, neighbors, friends or bystanders for interpretation except in exigent circumstances.