Buffalo Police to implement Language Access Plan

Mar 1, 2016

The Buffalo Police Department will soon have a plan in place to respond to residents who have limited English language skills. The program will give police and residents access to a network of services that may handle more than 200 different languages.

Buffalo Police officers will carry cards with numerous samples of language that they'll use to help residents identify their first language. If the need for an interpreter if determined, officers and residents will have access to various options.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown leads a news conference in his office, where he announced the implementation of a plan that will help police officers assist residents with limited English speaking skills.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

"It will use the language line telephone service, bilingual Buffalo Police Department members, civilian interpreters and professional contract services including in-person interpretation," said Mayor Byron Brown.

The plan is scheduled for full implementation on March 15.

Mayor Brown says the plan was formed after more than 50 representatives of the local immigrant and refugee communities came forward several months ago with a proposal.

Interpreter services were needed more than 900 times last year and the need is expected to rise. According to Mayor Brown, the city is projecting its first population increase since 1950 when the US Census for year 2020 is completed.

"While there are a lot of contributing factors to that, one of the factors is the growing presence of immigrants and refugees in our city," Brown said.