Program Helps Officers Break Language Barrier

Questioning witnesses, catching suspects and helping victims are all part of the day-to-day job for police officers. But when they run into a language barrier, things can get complicated.

Sgt. Kirk Flatten says La Crosse is getting more diverse, so police officers need to work with foreign languages more often. The department just launched a new program to help.

He says the program gives officers the chance to "talk to victims, suspects, witnesses that don't speak English or don't speak English very well."

Now, police officers can dial a toll-free phone number while they're in the field to get instant access to interpreters.

"We're getting such a diverse community, now a lot of Hispanic, we have the Hmong population and just visitors. It's tough to get a Hungarian translator at four in the morning."

In the past officers had to get creative and hope someone else on the police force or in another department could translate. Now officers can talk to anyone with the help of a simple phone call.

"We'll be able to get accurate information in real time... suspects, witnesses to help fill that gap -- the language barrier."

Calls will be sent through the emergency dispatch to officers and will also be available for other La Crosse area departments.

"A lot of the time those emergency situations we're going to be on scene with them, so definitely it will be there for them."

Flatten says he hopes this new technology will help improve cooperation between the public and law enforcement.

"La Crosse is definitely becoming more diverse which is a good thing. Some of those people don't speak English as their primary language."

The telelanguage program is already up and running for officers to use.


The comment sections of our web set are designed for thoughtful, intelligent conversation and debate. We want to hear from the viewers but we are not obligated to post comments we feel inappropriate or violate our guidelines. Here are some of the criteria you should follow when posting comments:

Comments cannot be profane or vulgar. Children and families visit this site. We will delete comments that use profanity or cross the lines of good taste.

We will delete all comments using hate speech. Slurs, stereotypes and violent talk aren’t welcome on our web site.

Comments should not attack other readers personally.

We will delete comments we deem offensive, in bad taste, or out of bounds. We are not obligated to post comments that are rude or insensitive.

We do not edit user-submitted comments.

As a host WEAU 13 News welcomes a wide spectrum of opinions. However, we have a responsibility to all our readers to try to keep our comment section fair and decent. For that reason WEAU 13 News reserves the right to not post or to remove any comment.
powered by Disqus
WEAU 13 NEWS 1907 S. Hastings Way Eau Claire, WI 54701 By Phone: Main Number (715) 835-1313 and (715) 832-3474. Tip Line (715) 839-WEAU - (715) 839-9328 Sports Line (715) 852-1537
Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 37029084 - weau.com/a?a=37029084
Gray Television, Inc.