Nassau County Police Department Fails Immigrant Communities on Language Access

Long Island, NY–The Nassau County Police Department (NCPD) is failing to meet its locally-mandated order to provide adequate language access to community members, according to a new report released by the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and Long Island Language Advocates Coalition (LILAC).

NYIC and LILAC conducted a survey to test the availability of language access to the Nassau County community by calling headquarters and precincts a total of 94 times. In 46.8% of these calls, the caller was unable to speak with someone in Spanish, displaying a pattern of willful negligence by the NCPD, and an inability to meet its mandated service to the community. In 2013, in response to the needs of a diverse immigrant population and in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano signed two Executive Orders mandating language access at all public-facing county agencies, including the NCPD. In addition to these local mandates, the NCPD is also required by federal civil rights law to provide language access. 

Ivan Larios, Manager of Member Engagement Long Island, New York Immigration Coalition:

“The Nassau County Police Department is failing its community, and violating mandates on both the local and federal level. All residents of Nassau County, regardless of immigration status or the language that they speak, need to be able to contact the NCPD in the case of an emergency. Providing a point of contact when someone is in danger is the most basic duty and responsibility of the police. But in Nassau County, if the person calling the police speaks Spanish, they can only expect an officer to communicate with them half of the time. The NCPD needs to follow the executive order, and provide language access to all communities it is charged with serving. Until all Nassau County residents can contact and communicate effectively with the NCPD, it is not actually protecting and serving or meeting the needs of the entire community.”

Cheryl Keshner, Empire Justice Center and Long Island Language Advocates Coalition:

“The Nassau County Police Department has been repeatedly informed about its language access deficiencies but has failed to take appropriate action. This pattern and practice of discriminatory policing not only endangers many of our most vulnerable community members, but also undermines their trust with the police. It is time for the Department of Justice to step in and hold the NCPD accountable for its actions!”

Keiko Cervantes-Ospina, Attorney-in-Charge, Community Legal Advocates of NY:

“Access to law enforcement is a fundamental necessity and benefits the community as a whole. Technology has advanced beyond the point where excuses about the inability to provide language access can be tolerated. Let's amplify this message: unequal access to law enforcement and other programs, based on English proficiency, is discriminatory and must end now!”