Law enforcement will likely encounter victims, witnesses, and other persons who need an interpreter. Ideally, the officer will be able to identify if a person needs an interpreter in the first few moments of meeting a limited English proficient (LEP) person. To accomplish this law enforcement may want to engage in some introductory dialogue—before any substantive interviewing—to detect if a person needs an interpreter to communicate fully and effectively with law enforcement officials. Here are general some Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind when encountering a potentially LEP person.
These are sample introductory questions that an officer can ask when meeting a person that is potentially LEP. They are based on scenarios that an officer will likely encounter during his or her patrol. The goal is to ask questions that are not related to information the officer may need to for a criminal case, that can build rapport with victims and witnesses and avoid yes/no questions helping officers assess the need for a qualified interpreter to help LEP persons communicate with law enforcement and promote accuracy of police reports and criminal investigations.
This document outlines the benefits to law enforcement officers of identifying LEP persons language access needs at crime scenes and during criminal investigations. These benefits include improving officer and crime scene safety, improving the likelihood of a successful prosecution, and ensuring that officers fully capture helpful statements from victims and witnesses.
Outline with links of laws governing law enforcement agency provision of language assistance to limited English proficient (LEP) individuals.
Instructor guide for having effective communication with limited English proficient (LEP) individuals. Training for law enforcement crime scene investigators and first responders.
This tool provides an overview of the U.S. Department of Justice recommendations regarding steps law enforcement officers should take when they encounter limited English proficient (LEP) persons and the process for obtaining qualified interpreters. What police may do in exigent circumstances is discussed as is the importance of obtaining a qualified interpreter once the scene is secure and the officer is taking information that will be included in the police report or part of the criminal investigation in the case.
This tool provides guidance on important steps to take when working with a telephonic interpreter including best practices for working with a telephonic interpreter, how to identify problems with a telephonic interpreter and steps to take if problems are identified.
Interactive training exercise for language interpretation.
This document provides general Dos and Don’ts for law enforcement officers that assist in detecting whether a person is limited English proficient (LEP) and needs an interpreter to communicate fully and effectively with law enforcement officials. This tool will also help law enforcement officials determine whether they believe an interpreter would facilitate accurate communication and the officer wishes to have an interpreter to ensure accuracy in police reports and investigations.