Chicago police hire first-ever language access coordinator

Chicago News

Photo via WGN

CHICAGO – Chicago police announced Friday that they’ve hired the department’s first-ever language access coordinator.

Roxana Cortes, who previously served with Chicago Public Schools as a translation specialist, will support CPD’s efforts toward compliance with requirements made by the consent decree.

“Impartial policing is central to promoting broad community engagement, fostering public confidence in our department, and building partnerships between our officers and the communities we serve,” said Deputy Superintendent Barbara West, who oversees CPD’s Office of Constitutional Policing and Reform. “We’re fortunate to have someone with Roxana’s skillset and experience guide our efforts as we provide equal language access to CPD programs and services for all Chicago residents.”

The consent decree mandates a series of impartial policing practices that will ensure meaningful access to CPD programs and services for individuals with limited ability to speak, read or write in English.

The City of Chicago’s various departments have been collecting detailed data about the frequency and types of LEP interactions in order to assist the city’s immigrant and LEP residents more efficiently. City departments have been utilizing a professional, 24-hour real-time interpretation hotline to ensure that LEP communities have full access to all city functions.

“Over the course of my career, I’ve developed an understanding and a passion for the needs of immigrants and refugees who require language access to city services,” said Cortes, who also served as a lecturer with The University of Chicago Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. “I’m looking forward to working with CPD as we implement a system of equal language access for our impacted communities.”

While over 1,200 Chicago police officers have self-identified as possessing some level of proficiency in languages, ranging from Spanish, Polish and Chinese to Arabic and Romanian, Cortes will also implement an accreditation system that includes independent assessment, testing, training and proficiency certification for the multilingual officers.

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