Canandaigua, NY - April 2, 2014 - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced an agreement with the Ontario County Sheriff's Office to strengthen the Office’s ability to communicate with and serve the county’s Limited English Proficient (LEP) residents. The agreement will improve the process for providing and securing interpretation and translation services when needed. The Ontario County Sheriff’s Department protects and serves a growing LEP population in the Finger Lakes region. Approximately 2200 people in the County have the limited ability to read or understand English.
"Access to important public safety and law enforcement services should not depend upon one’s ability to speak English," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "Working in cooperation with our office, the Ontario County Sheriff's Office has taken steps to ensure that personnel within the department are aware of the language needs of residents and able to respond accordingly."
Working jointly with the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau, the Ontario County Sheriff's Office has agreed to improve policies and practices concerning language access for individuals with limited English proficiency. Among the steps that the Office will take are: the adoption of a written language access policy outlining protocols to be followed by officers; training for officers on its revised language access policy; efforts to recruit bilingual officers; translation of important vital documents such as incident reports and Miranda warnings; and periodically convening with the Attorney General's Office to review implementation of its plan. The department will also refrain from contacting federal enforcement agencies solely for the purpose of meeting the office’s translation and interpretation needs.
The Ontario County Sheriff’s Department joins a growing list of law enforcement agencies across the state that are working cooperatively with Attorney General Schneiderman’s Office to improve language access for New Yorkers, including the Nassau County Police Department, the Rochester Police Department, and the Middletown Police Department. Approximately two and a half million New Yorkers do not speak English as their primary language, and have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English. Ontario County, in particular, has a growing Hispanic population with many LEP residents.
Sheriff Phillip C. Povero of the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department said, “My Office is committed to delivering effective and responsive law enforcement services to all citizens of Ontario County, no matter what language they speak, whenever we are called upon. The Ontario County Office of the Sheriff is pleased to have worked with the Attorney General's Office to strengthen our ability to serve all communities regardless of their language skills and ability while, also, joining with the Attorney General to enhance the quality of life for all in Ontario County.”
Ramona Palmer of the Victim Resource Center of Finger Lakes Region said, "As advocates working on behalf of some of the most vulnerable populations in the Finger Lakes Region, including domestic violence victims and migrant workers, we deem it critical that our local law enforcement agencies are able to serve and protect all communities regardless of their ability to speak English. Ontario County Sheriff's Office, with whom we've worked cooperatively before, has agreed to take important steps that will eliminate language barriers and help ensure greater protection for victims, witnesses and the public at large. We thank Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for promoting language access across the state of New York.
This initiative is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Allegra Chapman of the Civil Rights Bureau. The Civil Rights Bureau, led by Bureau Chief Kristen Clarke, is part of the Social Justice Division, led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg. Debra Martin, Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Rochester Regional Office, also provided assistance.
The Civil Rights Bureau is committed to promoting civil rights compliance across New York State. To file a complaint with the Bureau, contact 212-416-8250 or Civil.Rights@ag.ny.gov