DOJ, Law Enforcement Letter Regarding Language Access Obligations (December 12, 2023) [pdf]

Letter from the Assistant Attorney General to law enforcement agencies regarding their language access obligations under federal language access law. This letter explains that “overcoming language barriers within a law enforcement agency is critical for three key reasons. First, accurate and timely communication protects officers and the public. When threats or other vital information are misunderstood, lives may be unnecessarily put at risk. Tragic consequences have resulted from officers’ inability to communicate in an accurate and timely manner with perpetrators, victims, or witnesses with LEP. Second, use of translation, interpretation, and other language assistance services promotes community trust and inclusion by sending a message that LEAs strive to equitably serve the whole community, irrespective of language barriers. Finally, accurate and timely language assistance also helps to ensure the reliability of witness accounts and other evidence. Collecting reliable evidence is at the very heart of the law enforcement mission and critical to achieving justice in the courtroom.