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Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Language Access Policy and Plan

1.     Policy Statement, Purpose and Authority.

Pursuant to Executive Order 13166, 65 Fed. Reg. 50,121 (August 16, 2000), it is the policy of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access for limited English proficient (LEP) persons to all of its federally conducted programs and activities.  The COPS Office also endeavors to ensure that recipients of federal financial assistance similarly provide effective language assistance to LEP persons whom they encounter in their programs and activities. The purpose of the COPS Office language access policy and plan is to improve access by LEP persons to its federally conducted and federally assisted programs.  This policy and plan not only applies to the COPS Office, but to all programs and activities that the COPS Office conducts and all recipients that the COPS Office funds.

2.     Definitions.

3.     Language Access Coordinator.

The COPS Office Language Access Coordinator is responsible for ensuring that the COPS Office adheres to its language access policy and plan.  The COPS Office Language Access Coordinator will report to the Deputy Director for Community Policing Advancement and coordinate all reports and actions through this office.

4.     Federally Conducted Programs and Activities.

The COPS Office is the component of the U.S. Department of Justice that advances public safety through community policing in state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. The COPS Office does its work principally by sharing information and making grants to law enforcement agencies in the United States.  In developing its language access plan, the COPS Office surveyed its operations based on the above-referenced factors and determined that, as a general matter, the COPS Office does not provide federally funded program or activities to LEP persons. The COPS Office will conduct annual assessments of the implementation of the language access policy and plan and update any language assistance provisions as needed based on results.

When applicable, the COPS Office will rely on bilingual personnel who are qualified to provide language assistance services to LEP persons.  Bilingual personnel who will use direct communication with LEP persons in a language other than English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the target language and have knowledge in both languages of any specialized terms or concepts unique to the pertinent program or activity and of any particularized vocabulary and phraseology used by the LEP person.  The COPS Office will also be prepared to use a commercially available service to obtain interpreter services when required.

Responding to correspondence and electronic communications. The COPS Office is committed to translating correspondence and electronic communications received from an LEP person.

Translating vital documents. The COPS Office is committed to ongoing reviews and assessments of COPS programs to identify any vital documents that would be required to be translated.

If a document is not translated and must be presented to an LEP person, then the COPS Office will translate it for the LEP person or, if that is not practicable, orally interpret the document for the individual.  The COPS Office will also be prepared to use a commercially available service to obtain translations when required.

The COPS Office will be prepared to use a commercially available service to translate vital web content needed to be translated for LEP persons.

Any program beneficiary, program participant, or member of the public who believes that he or she has not received adequate oral or written language assistance from the COPS Office may file a written complaint. A person may submit such a complaint, in writing, to the following address:

COPS Office Language Access Coordinator
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
U.S. Department of Justice
Two Constitution Square
145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530

If a person has questions about seeking assistance or the complaint process, he or she can contact the COPS Office Language Access Coordinator at the above-referenced address or by telephone at 800.421.6770.

d)   Staff Compliance.  All COPS Office staff will be responsible for ensuring that the COPS     Office takes reasonable steps to provide meaningful access for LEP persons to all federally conducted programs and activities.  COPS Office staff will coordinate with the COPS Office Language Access Coordinator to advise of any LEP individual seeking translation or interpretation assistance.  COPS personnel, including contract staff, will report every interaction to the Coordinator and include the primary language and the method of language services provided.

5.     Federally Assisted Programs and Activities.
COPS Guidance to Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance. COPS directs recipients of federal financial assistance from COPS that they are prohibited from engaging in prohibited national-origin discrimination.  To achieve this objective, COPS relies on the following tools:.

In COPS solicitations announcing the availability of grant funds, applicants are advised that as a condition of receipt of federal financial assistance, the applicant must acknowledge and agree that they will not discriminate on the grounds of national origin, among other protected classes, in the delivery of services.

As a condition of receiving federal financial assistance, COPS ensures that recipients acknowledge and agree that they will comply with applicable provisions of federal laws prohibiting discrimination, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2002, which prohibit recipients from discriminating on the basis of national origin, among other protected classes, in the delivery of services or benefits.

As part of the grant award package that every COPS recipient receives, the Director of OCR sends a letter notifying the recipient of its federal civil rights obligations.  The letter notifies the recipient of prohibited national-origin discrimination and discusses a recipient’s obligation to ensure that it takes reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to its programs and activities for LEP persons.

Where appropriate, and if authorized and approved under a COPS Office program, applicants will be provided guidance on including, within their program budgets, the   costs of providing interpretation and translation services to eligible LEP service populations.

In the event a federal or state court or federal or state administrative agency makes a finding of discrimination after a due process hearing on the grounds of national origin against a recipient of funds, the recipient must forward a copy of the finding to OCR.

OCR conducts language access compliance reviews of organizations funded by DOJ.  In addition, OCR investigates complaints against COPS recipients.

6.         Availability of Language Access Policy and Plan.
The COPS Office language access policy and plan will be available to the public and COPS staff on the COPS Office’s website.
Questions about the COPS Office’s Language Access Policy and Plan should be directed to the COPS Office Language Access Coordinator at 800.421.6770.