Tacoma police officers are now using a language translation tool to assist during emergency responses. Q13 Fox News reports that all officers have access to Language Line Solutions, a translator app on their phones.
In the past, officers used neighbors or even family members, like kids, to translate.
Lydia Zepeda, who is a member of the Commission on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, worked with the Tacoma Police Department to introduce a better way for officers to help people in crisis.
“A lot of these people are experiencing domestic violence, they may have been sexually assaulted, or they may be some other victim of a crime and we certainly don’t want children to have to interpret for something like this.” ~Lydia Zepeda, Commission on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.
“Language Line Solutions allows the Tacoma Police Department to offer equitable services to all members of the community,” said officer Wendy Haddow with the Tacoma Police Department.
The app offers translators for 240 different languages with voice options, and for some languages, video chat options. When you open the app, you can scroll or use the search feature to find the language you are looking for.
“This app is really, really important,” said Zepeda. She says this new tool, gives people going through an emergency an easier way to be heard, and get the help they need. She says it also protects children from having to be involved. “It minimizes trauma.”
My opinion? The language line app is an excellent use of police resources which serves everyone. In an emergency, getting information quick is vital. However, challenges arise when responding officers and the caller do not speak the same language.
Language barriers are the source of much litigation. In State v. Prok, the WA Court of dismissed a DUI case against a Cambodian DUI defendant because the police officer failed to advise Mr. Prok of his right to counsel in language easily understood. By itself, State v. Prok assisted defense attorneys who argued Motions to Suppress evidence based on language barriers between police and defendants.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.