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Press Release

Readout of Justice Department’s Law Enforcement Language Access Initiative Virtual Convening

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Today, as part of the Justice Department’s Law Enforcement Language Access Initiative, the Civil Rights Division hosted a virtual convening with law enforcement stakeholders to discuss their efforts to address language barriers in policing and build effective language access programs.

The initiative, launched in December 2022, is a nationwide effort to assist law enforcement agencies in meeting their obligation to provide meaningful language assistance to individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP) to better serve and protect communities. The initiative also builds on the division’s longstanding work to ensure that law enforcement agencies receiving federal financial assistance comply with their federal antidiscrimination obligations, under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act.

In her opening remarks, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke provided an overview of the division’s consistent efforts to improve how law enforcement agencies communicate with people with LEP. For example, she announced that the division has reached an Agreement in Principle with the King County (Washington) Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) that, once finalized, will resolve allegations that KCSO discriminated against individuals with LEP. Under the agreement, KCSO commits to ensuring language access for individuals with LEP, including creating a language access policy and implementing procedures; developing a community engagement and outreach strategy; creating a robust training program; and more. KCSO serves over two million people and provides law enforcement services to a dozen other cities in the county.

She also announced the division issued a letter today to law enforcement agencies reiterating their federal civil rights obligations to provide language assistance services to individuals with LEP, and to provide effective communication to deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Finally, she highlighted several resources, including a training video and translations of the FBI’s Advice of Rights in over 40 languages, to help officers reduce language barriers, build community trust and keep officers safe. These resources are housed on the COPS Training Portal. Funded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) and powered by the National Center for Policing Innovation, the Portal is a no-cost platform for law enforcement practitioners and community partners that features interactive training and resources in emerging public safety topics and community policing.

Following Assistant Attorney General Clarke’s remarks, Justice Department officials and law enforcement leaders participated in a panel discussion regarding effective strategies around language access, including the development of language access policies tailored to the community and police department; avoiding the use of unqualified and potentially biased interpreters; appointing a language access coordinator to implement policies and procedures; translating vital information; training officers on language access procedures; and establishing meaningful complaint procedures. Panelists also highlighted the importance of affirmatively engaging with stakeholders and communities with LEP.

Participants for the panel discussion included U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York; First Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Kirsch for the District of Colorado; COPS Office Deputy Director Robert Chapman for Community Policing Advancement; FBI Unit Chief Trent Glosson for the Language Services Section; Denver Police Department Police Chief Ron Thomas; and Brown County, Wisconsin, Sheriff Todd Delain.

Today’s convening and announcements continue to build on the Justice Department’s longstanding commitment to advancing language access. In November, the department announced the launch of the Federal Language Access Working Group, a new interagency effort that will coordinate language access across the federal government. Along with the creation of this working group, the department also announced the release of updated federal agency language access plans on its website,, on the one-year anniversary of the Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s language access memorandum to federal agencies. The Civil Rights Division also recently issued a fact sheet on courts language access in coordination with a webinar for state courts. To obtain copies of the letter to law enforcement or find additional information about the Law Enforcement Language Access Initiative, visit

Updated December 13, 2023

Press Release Number: 23-1409