Long Island, NY–Today, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition (LILAC) sent a letter signed by elected officials on Long Island to the Nassau County Executive, Bruce Blakeman, demanding compliance of the existing language access policy by the Nassau County Police Department (NCPD). This comes after the NYIC and LILAC released a report in September detailing the systemic neglect of people living in Nassau County who have limited English proficiency. The report revealed that 46.8% of volunteers were unable to obtain language assistance or get the requested information, and another 16% were intentionally hung up on by the NCPD.
The signatories, including Senator Kevin Thomas, Senator John Brooks, Senator Anna Kaplan, Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre, Assemblymember Taylor Darling, and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, requested that the Nassau County Executive and Legislature review the policy report and implement all recommendations put forth by the NYIC and LILAC to protect the civil rights of all Nassau County residents.
“It is essential that all residents have unfettered access to, and the ability to use emergency assistance services when they reach out for help regardless of their fluency in English. The response to callers unable to effectively communicate while in crisis should never be to simply hang up or move on - especially since those calls tend to come from our more vulnerable populations. Everyone deserves to be safe. I applaud L.I.L.A.C for their advocacy to implement a comprehensive language access plan in Nassau County and support their efforts to put the safety and well-being of all our community members first.” said New York State Senator Kevin Thomas.
"Long Island is home to a diverse constituency of residents. We must ensure that all residents no matter what language they speak, are able to effectively communicate issues in a time of need. I stand with NYIC calling on Nassau County Exec Bruce Blakeman to issue a memorandum directing NCPD Commissioner Ryder to address the lack of language access in the Nassau County Police Department," said Assembly Member Taylor Darling.
“The ability to interact with government agencies in your preferred language is one of the most critical pillars of our society, ensuring that all people can access life-saving information and participate more fully in their communities,” said Ivan Larios, Manager of Member Engagement Long Island, New York Immigration Coalition. “In 2013, Nassau County affirmed its commitment to its diverse immigrant population by expanding language access with Executive Order 72—but while our leaders uplifted community, the Nassau County Police Department has continuously denied people their right to safety and inclusion for nearly ten years. To leave people in need of support and protection without aid is for the NCPD to fail its most essential duty, and is utterly shameful. Today, our Long Island leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to serving all Nassau County’s residents by requesting the Nassau County Executive and Legislature review our full policy report and implement our recommendations for language access reform in the NCPD. While this is a meaningful first step in our fight for equity, true progress will not be achieved until the NCPD fulfills its fundamental obligation to serve all community members, no matter their language.”
“The NCPD’s repeated failure to address its language access deficiencies clearly shows that top brass only want to uphold the status quo and reinforce an unlawful pattern of discriminatory behavior. County Executive Blakeman’s nonresponse to our report and to community concerns is equally inexcusable,” said Cheryl Keshner, LILAC Coordinator and Senior Paralegal/Community Advocate at the Empire Justice Center.
“The NYIC and LILAC report shows the planning, training, implementation and enforcement of language access for the Nassau County Police Department is inadequate and needs immediate attention. Are we to be happy with only half of the population or half of the situations to receive lawful and suitable Language Access services? These laws were put in place to ensure that those with limited English proficiency have equal access to public services.” said Helen Dorado-Alessi, Executive Director at the Long Beach Latino Civic Association.