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The United States Department of Justice recently announced a plan to provide better language access to limited-English proficient (LEP) individuals. The nationwide effort will help law enforcement agencies better understand their obligation to deliver meaningful language assistance. CyraCom’s experts analyzed the initiative—let’s review the details.

Purpose of the Language Access Law Enforcement Initiative

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires law enforcement to utilize qualified interpreters for any interrogation or taking of a formal statement where the suspect or witness’ legal rights could be adversely impacted. Failure to utilize qualified interpreters can increase safety risks for officer and community, jeopardize criminal investigations and prosecutions, and potentially result in the loss of Federal Funding.

According to the Justice Department, the new language access plan will:

  • Develop technical assistance resources and tools that can assist local and state law enforcement agencies in their efforts to provide meaningful language access to LEP individuals and populations within their jurisdiction.
  • Affirmatively engage law enforcement agencies that want to review, update, and/or strengthen their language access polices, plans, and training.
  • Leverage collaboration with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to conduct trainings in communities across the country to increase awareness of language access obligations and encourage widespread adoption of best practices by law enforcement agencies.
  • Strengthen the department’s ties and engagement with LEP community stakeholders and LEP populations.

What Prompted This:
Allegations Against the Denver Police Department

Denver community members accused the DPD of discriminating against LEP people by failing to provide language services to LEP individuals. In several instances, DPD officers either failed to provide language assistance or inappropriately used children, family members, and bystanders to aid with interpretation. The community argued that the DPD discriminated on the basis of national origin against LEP individuals in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI prohibits race, color, and national origin discrimination by recipients of federal financial assistance.


The Department of Justice reports that as part of their settlement agreement, the DPD has agreed to implement a series of changes to its language access policies, procedures and training, including:

  • Updating its Language Access Policy and Plan in order to establish procedures for communicating with LEP individuals, including witnesses and suspects, and to prohibit the use of children, family members, or bystanders to communicate with LEP individuals, except in exigent circumstances;
  • Appointing its first-ever LEP Coordinator and establish Language Access Points of Contact (LAPCs) in every DPD district;
  • Training all DPD employees and new recruits on identifying, communicating with, and documenting interactions with LEP individuals; and
  • Creating a Language Access Committee that includes stakeholders representing LEP community interests.

CyraCom’s Language Access Resources

In addition to the resources and tools provided through the Language Access Law Enforcement Initiative, public safety offices can turn to CyraCom for support.

GSA, DHS, & Federal Contracting Work
CyraCom International holds a GSA contract for Public Service Schedule 738 II Functional Category 1 (FC1). This Schedule facilitates access to commercial vendors of language services who can supply Translation Services, Interpretation Services, Sign Language, and Training Services.

CyraCom International also holds contract BPA HSFE70-16-A-1972. Under this contract, CyraCom can provide language interpretation and translation services to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and associated agencies. We work with numerous state and local government agencies. CyraCom holds a national agreement with Value Point, accessible by states and territories across the US.

Making an RFx for your agency? Request our RFx Development Guide or submit your task order.

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Lindsay Lawson

Lindsay Lawson

An experienced researcher, writer, and editor on language services-related topics, specializing in interpreting and translation services, how language works.