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Columbus, OH 43215


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Council Improves First Responders Access to Language Services

Language line access improves communication between officers and residents

[COLUMBUS, OH]  First responders have the tough task of assessing a situation within minutes. What happens when there is a language barrier? In response to requests by residents, City Councilmembers Mitchell J. Brown and Emmanuel V. Remy approved funding to equip the Columbus Division of Police officers with on-demand interpretation services. The goal is to improve communication between police and non-English speaking communities.

While the Division of Police has provided officers with access to interpretation services for some time, the demand for these services has increased as Columbus’s non-English speaking population continues to grow. In order to access language services, the Division currently provides one City issued cell phone per patrol precinct for the purposes of contacting an interpreter. The legislation passed this evening will purchase additional devices to ensure there is no limitation to accessing interpretation.

“I am pleased to provide another tool to facilitate communication between our first responders and the residents they serve,” said Councilmember Mitchell J. Brown, “it is vital that our Division of Police provides excellent service to every resident in our community.”

“City Council is committed to breaking down barriers between city services and residents,” said Councilmember Emmanuel V. Remy. “In a moment of emergency, everyone deserves to be understood, no matter their language.”

“Our city is safest and justice best served when all residents and law enforcement can effectively communicate with each other,” said Angela K. Plummer, Executive Director of Community Refugee and Immigration Services, “CRIS applauds these efforts by City Council to make language access for limited English speakers a reality.

The Division currently records an average of 275 contacts with language interpretation services each month. As the additional devices enter into service, the program will be evaluated to determine if the resources meet the desired result.

Columbus City Council and the Division of Police continue to encourage non-English speaking residents to contact emergency personnel for assistance in emergency situations.

“We are thankful for the leadership of CRIS, who brought this issue to our attention and worked with City Council and the Division of Police to help create a possible solution,” said Councilmember Remy. “Every interaction between first responders and residents in our community is important, and we’ll do whatever we can to improve them.”

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