RIPR News
5:19 pm
Tue November 30, 2010

Rhode Island State Police: There's never been a translator complaint

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Rhode Island State Police says it has never received a complaint about failing to provide translations for non-English speaking people.

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice saying among other things that state police lacked protocol for using its bi-lingual staff for translation.

State police legal counsel Lisa Holley said there are procedures for the 50 employees who speak nine languages including sign language.

"We have several troopers that are bi-lingual in a variety of languages, additionally we also use a phone translator service," said Holley.

The complaint's based on documents the ACLU received in a public records request.

Rhode Island ACLU Director Steven Brown said his group received 33 documents, most of them brochures and translated forms. Brown said those documents show little evidence that the state police had taken stock of what services they needed to comply with federal civil rights laws.

"And then the few documents that have been provided simply are woefully incomplete in terms of ensuring adequate services," said Brown. "There are many documents that simply are not translated; a few documents that they have translated have serious and sometimes egregious translation errors."

The Justice Department is expected to weigh in on the complaint in a few weeks. And Holley said the state police will cooperate if needed.

Read the Complaint
Read the Rhode Island ACLU's compliant here.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@wrni.org.