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Law Enforcement Language Access Initiative: An Overview

Picture of a police officer in uniform.

In December 2022, the Department of Justice (DoJ) Office of Public Affairs launched the Law Enforcement Language Access Initiative. This nationwide effort was specifically designed to help local and state-level law enforcement agencies ensure they are providing adequate language services to individuals they serve that are limited-English proficient (LEP). 

Take a look at the importance of language access in law enforcement, what the new initiative is designed to do, and how partnering with a language services provider can help.  

First, Why Is Language Access Important in Law Enforcement?

LEP populations in the United States are at an all-time high. According to the latest data available, roughly 8.6 percent of the population can be defined as LEP.  These individuals face disparities and risks in everything from healthcare to educational settings. 

While law enforcement agencies are required to provide language access to LEP individuals due to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many agencies do struggle. Even with language support tools in place, they are not always properly used or understood. Over the last few years, there have been instances of discrimination due to agents not utilizing language support when interacting with LEP individuals. 

Inadequate communication with LEP individuals causes a number of problems for both law enforcement and LEP individuals, such as: 

  • Not properly conveying information during law-related or policing activities
  • Not communicating in a way that ensures the law officer and LEP individual can stay safe 
  • Creating a sense of distrust between LEP individuals and law officers

An Overview of the Law Enforcement Language Access Initiative 

The Law Enforcement Language Access Initiative is designed to create a nationwide agenda to ensure consistency when it comes to language access in law enforcement. The U.S. Attorney's Offices across the country are partnering with the Civil Rights Division’s Federal Coordination and Compliance Section to carry out the initiative. 

While the plans are comprehensively designed, the general purpose of the initiative is to: 

  • Provide resources to help agencies provide language support 
  • Help agencies update existing policies 
  • Create sessions to train agencies and agents to use language support tools  

The Role of Language Access Partners in Supporting the New Initiative 

To get ahead of the initiative set forth by the DoJ, law enforcement agencies may consider partnering with a language support provider (LSP). LSPs offer different levels of language support and tools that can be implemented on an organizational level to ensure adequate communication with LEP individuals. The typical services provided include: 

In addition, the best language services providers work with your organization to build customized solutions that work well for your LEP interactions. Further, they can provide services to make sure all agency staff members are familiar with integrated tools and how to use them in their daily roles to serve LEP individuals. 

Learn More About the DoJ Language Access Initiative for Law Enforcement 

At GLOBO, we strive to provide an effective way for everyone of every nationality and language to communicate across the multitude of public services, including law enforcement. As one of the top language solutions providers in the country, we're here to help law enforcement agencies meet the criteria set forth by the Law Enforcement Language Access Initiative. 

Want to know more about the initiative and how a language access partner can help? Be sure to check out the detailed guide, The Language Access Law Enforcement Initiative, from GLOBO.  

Additional Resources