Ashley Perry Oct. 22, 2014, 11:12am

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman reached an agreement with the Newburgh Police Department on Tuesday to provide improved translation and interpretation services to area residents with limited English proficiency (LEP).

The Newburgh community is nearly 48 percent Hispanic, which is one of the largest Hispanic populations in the state. Schneiderman said the language barrier between Spanish-speaking residents and law enforcement needed improvement to keep the community functioning properly.

“Equal justice under law requires that all New Yorkers have access to the important public safety services provided by law enforcement agencies, regardless of their language ability,” Schneiderman said. “This agreement with the Newburgh Police Department — and similar agreements my office has reached with other police departments around New York state — will help us ensure that the delivery of police services are not limited or restricted by language barriers.”

As part of the agreement, interpreter services will be made available during suspect and victim questioning;  safety alerts and public service announcements will also be made in Spanish; police officers will receive annual training in communicating with LEP residents; the police department will make efforts to hire bilingual officers and staff; and complaint forms will be available in Spanish and English. 

“Our language access plan was designed to help us diminish language barriers that may arise in any situations the police department may encounter. The purpose is for our officers to be more effective in every aspect of their work,” Michael Ferrara, chief of the Newburgh Police Department, said.

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