This story is about New York City, but it is a problem we have here in New Jersey, as well. The New York Times article chronicles many cases where the NYPD didn’t offer or didn’t provide interpreters to non-English speaking residents.

It also details the steps the city takes to accommodate those who don’t speak the language. Many people are quoted who had trouble communicating in an emergency situation. What isn’t mentioned in the article is any responsibility the non-English speakers have to learning the language and assimilating. I know it makes me sound like a right-wing reactionary, but if you can’t communicate with the police during an emergency, why is it the police’s fault? If I went to France and got mugged, I would not assume the gendarmes spoke English; it would be nice, but I wouldn’t expect it.

If I were planning on staying there awhile, I would want to learn enough French to communicate in an emergency. The article mentions that courts have interpreted the Civil Rights Act to include discrimination based on language, but does that mean you have to have an interpreter for every spoken language? Again, if you want to be able to communicate during an emergency, it would behoove you to speak the language the majority of the country speaks.