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 applies not only to the COPS Office but also to all programs and activities that the COPS Office conducts and all recipients that the COPS Office funds.
- Bilingual. A person who has demonstrated proficiency in speaking two languages fluently and in communicating directly and accurately in both English and another language
- Federally assisted program or activity. A program or activity that is provided by a recipient of federal financial assistance.
- Federally conducted program or activity. (1) A program or activity that involves general public contact as part of ongoing federal agency operations or (2) a federal agency’s direct administration of a service or benefit that involves persons who are beneficiaries or participants.
- Interpretation. The act of listening to a communication in one language and orally converting it into another language.
- Language access coordinator. An employee designated by the Director of the COPS Office to ensure that the COPS Office adheres to its language access plan.
- Limited English proficient (LEP) individual. An individual whose primary language is not English and who has a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English.
- Primary language. The language in which an individual is most effectively able to communicate.
- Recipient. An entity receiving federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), COPS Office.
- Translation. The replacement of written text from one language (source language) into an equivalent written text in another language (target language).
- Vital document. A document containing information that is critical for accessing the COPS Office’s programs or activities.
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
Four-factor analysis. An agency’s obligation to provide language-assisted services is determined on a case-by-case basis based on an assessment that balances the following four factors:
- The number or proportion of LEP persons served or encountered in the eligible service population
- The frequency with which LEP persons come in contact with the program
- The nature and importance of the service or benefit provided by the program
- The resources available to the agency and the costs of those resources
The COPS Office is the component of the DOJ 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 four factors referenced here 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.
If the COPS Office determines that a program or activity requires language assistance based on the four-factor analysis, the following types of services may be offered:
- Provision of oral and written language services. When applicable, the COPS Office will provide free language assistance services to LEP persons in connection with its federally conducted programs and activities.
- Oral language services.
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.
- Written language services.
Responding to correspondence and electronic communications. When applicable, the COPS Office will translate correspondence and electronic communications received from an LEP person.
Translating vital documents. The COPS Office is committed to ongoing reviews and assessments of COPS Office programs to identify any vital documents that would need to be translated.
When applicable, if a document is not translated and must be presented to an LEP person, the COPS Office will translate it for the LEP person or, if that is not practical, 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.
- Web language services.
The COPS Office will be prepared to use a commercially available service to translate vital web content needed to be translated for LEP persons.
- Complaints. The COPS Office seeks to provide meaningful access for LEP persons to all of its federally conducted programs and activities.
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 NE
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 this address or by telephone at 800-421-6770.
- 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 Office 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 Office Guidance to Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance. The COPS Office directs recipients of federal financial assistance from the COPS Office that they are prohibited from engaging in prohibited national-origin discrimination. To achieve this objective, the COPS Office relies on the following tools:
- Solicitation language. In COPS Office solicitations announcing the availability of federal financial assistance, 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.
- Standard assurances of nondiscrimination. As a condition of receiving federal financial assistance, the COPS Office 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.
- Memorandum to recipients addressing language access requirements. As part of the award package that every COPS Office recipient receives, the Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Office of Justice Programs, DOJ sends a memorandum notifying the recipient of its federal civil rights obligations. The memorandum 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.
- Budgeting for language services. 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.
- Findings of discrimination. 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 the OCR.
- Compliance reviews/Complaint Investigations. The OCR conducts language access compliance reviews of organizations funded by the DOJ. In addition, the OCR investigates complaints against COPS Office funding 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 Office 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.