As it turns out, volunteer testers have been having a difficult time reaching the policemen of Nassau County, which includes Hempstead. Specifically because, when answering, spanish-speakers only received help about half of the time. This is all according to the latest report by the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition as well as the Immigration Coalition of New York.
Seven volunteers called 94 times in Spanish to every precinct in Nassau and headquarters for the study. Out of the callers, only a third had been disconnected while an additional 16% had been hung up on. The Immigration Coalition was very disappointed by this as they state it’s significant for the community to receive equal treatment. It’s only a matter of time before anybody loses their lives in cases of domestic violence.
None of the executives from Nassau County, nor the police department did anything as there were multiple calls that had not been returned, when seeking comment on the report. You see, federal laws ask police to help non-English speakers. Even Nassau County Executive Ed Magano signed two orders at his level making it mandated for county agencies to align their best practices with the most accurate access to language. And that was back in 2013!
So What Changed in Nassau County?
Nassau is well known as the homeplace of about 160,000 citizens born in Latin America, who are common Spanish-speakers. About 100,000 people here were born in Asia, speaking mostly Mandarin and Korean.
Yet the service that the police use the most has been indicated as LanguageLine. This is a service connecting officers to translators on a phone app. Yet, they have not been able to access the application properly enough for satisfactory results. Spanish speakers complained normally about a lack of access to policemen in their native language. Just in January alone, Commissioner Patrick Ryder mentioned how in 2021, there were 8,964 calls to LanguageLine. Many of them being with Spanish speakers.
Commissioner Ryder himself ended up hearing from the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition that there had been more than several cases where domestic violence victims asked for police help but had to leave the call because they were not able to communicate in proper English. The sad thing is that Ryder didn’t make immediate changes to the system after that meeting with the Coalition. For shame, that policemen are too ignorant to hear out sincere pleas in need of desperate help.
And I simply think this is outrageous. I have a Grandmother, you know. And she happens to only speak Spanish, despite spending 20 years plus in the USA. So tell me, why is it that if, she was to call her local police department about anything, that she can’t get a Spanish speaking cop to help her out? It’s absolutely absurd that there aren’t those individuals present on staff that can care enough to provide the type of access she and others need in order for the whole process to be streamlined for everyone and not just English-speakers.