Columbus Police Hold Language Summit

In Ohio the rising number of non-English speaking immigrants has caused cultural problems for police officers. Often times officers and immigrants don’t know what each other is saying.

Law enforcement officials in Summit County experienced language barriers in the jurisdiction.

“This is a dynamic country we have thousands of immigrants coming in everyday. Law enforcement has not been prepared to deal with this here,” said Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander.

In an effort to solve this problem, Alexander and more than two-hundred members of law enforcement and criminal justice agencies met at the Columbus Police Academy to learn how to deal with the issue.

Law enforcement has learned to cope with language barriers by using interpreters. But interpreters need to know more than just the foreign language.

“They need to have native like fluency in both languages- that’s just a start. And then in addition to that they have to learn and acquire these skills thats necessary to interpret in various modes of intreperation that are required by federal statute and some state court rules,” said Isabel Framer who works for the state of Oregon.

The seminar is the first step in assisting law enforcement officials with the necessary skills needed to serve and protect Columbus residents. Officers came looking for tools to help with the language barrier and they left with a small one — a pocket-sized card called the “I speak card”.

“One of the hardest things to do is just to try to figure out what language a person speaks. Well, the card, you take the card out you can give it to a person, they can identify the language they speak and then you can work with interpretor services to make sure you communicate effectively,” said Karhlton Moore, Executive Director of the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice.

The Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Service sponsored the event.

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