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Law Enforcement

LARC Home Page Federal laws prohibit discrimination of LEP individuals by law enforcement agencies that receive Federal assistance. In the law enforcement arena, a personís life, liberty, health, property, and safety can be at stake.

LEP plans are required to ensure the safety of police officers, victims, bystanders and other civilians. To support these efforts, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has provided law enforcement agencies with several tools and models to assist development of their LEP policies.

Federal Protections                                                                   

Section 601 of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d, provides that no person shall ``on the ground of race, color, or  national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the  benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or  activity receiving Federal financial assistance.''

Department of Justice regulations promulgated pursuant to section 602 forbid recipients from ``utiliz[ing] criteria or methods of administration which have the effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination because of their race, color, or national origin, or have the effect of defeating or substantially impairing accomplishment of the objectives of the program as respects individuals of a particular race, color, or national origin.'' 28 CFR 42.104(b)(2).

The work of law enforcement depends on fast, accurate communication of information, directives and instructions. With the U.S. population expanding in diversity, law enforcement officers may need language assistance in their interactions with victims, witnesses or suspects who do not speak English or are limited English proficient (LEP). The manner in which these interactions are handled has an impact on safety, investigations, and the effective administration of justice.

On December 18, 2002, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights sent a letter to Department of Justice (DOJ) recipients of federal financial assistance and representative organizations, providing them with a copy of the most recent DOJ LEP Guidance and asking them to spread the word about the need to provide meaningful access to LEP individuals. Copies of these documents are available in the resources below.

The benefits of language-assistance services for particular LEP individuals, while not readily quantifiable in dollar units, can be significant. Improved access to law enforcement can substantially improve the health and quality of life of many LEP individuals and their families. In addition to the obligations of law enforcement agencies detailed in the updated DOJ Guidance Policy, the Department of Justice and other organizations have created several resources to assist law enforcement in their development of LEP Plans.

Federal Resources                                                                            

Department of Justice

Police LEP Policies and Agreements

National Studies and Reports on LEP and Law Enforcement

Frequently Asked Questions
Federal LEP
Title VI
Executive Order 13166
DOJ LEP Guidance
Federal Agency Guidance
LEP Topics
Court Access
Domestic Violence
Employment /Unemployment
Food Stamp Program
Health Care Services
Law Enforcement
Legal Services and Attorneys
Public Housing
Social Security
LEP Statistics
Census Data
Other Group Data
Resources and Training
Language Access Guides
Language Access Training
Model LEP Plans
New York Resources

Last Updated: July 22, 2009 ● Empire Justice Center © 2009