The city’s largest grassroots immigrant advocacy group will announce on Thursday that it is filing a friend of the court brief in a case alleging that the New York Police Department discriminates against New Yorkers who speak little to no English during vehicle stops.
The group, Make The Road New York, will join a suit being brought by the Bronx Defenders. It alleges that the police department has been denying physical coordination tests to limited English-proficient (LEP) New Yorkers who are stopped and detained on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
The Bronx Defenders lost the case in civil and state courts but they have filed an appeal in the Court of Appeals – the state’s highest court – which will hear the case in the fall.
The lawsuit argues in part that the police department is not following an executive order issued by City Hall requiring that all city agencies provide interpretation and translation services to limited English proficient New Yorkers.
“By refusing even to offer a physical coordination test to LEP drivers – which can mean the difference between conviction and vindication – the NYPD falls short of that standard. We trust that our amicus brief will clarify this critical issue to the court,” said Amy Taylor, Make The Road New York’s legal director.
Taylor said the NYPD has several directives outlined in its patrol guide that require officers to provide translation services when needed either through a person or a call-in service which officers can access. Despite the NYPD’s diversity and the many languages spoken among its officers, Taylor said New Yorkers who do not have a solid grasp of English are being denied basic rights in their interactions with police.
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