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Language and Culture Barriers Faced by N.Y.P.D


The New York City police department has been facing various challenges when it comes to handling crimes in the city. This is because the city is made up of people of different cultures and backgrounds who do not speak the same language. Even though America is an English-speaking nation, there are immigrants to the country who may not be able to speak or understand the language. It has been difficult especially for the traffic police to maintain order among the non-English speakers due to barriers in communication. The non-English speaking community may experience a kind of discrimination from the natives due to their inability to communicate. There have been incidences when city police dealing with emergency cases get phone calls from non-English speakers. Their effort to get the correct information that would enable them to deal with the situation may be fruitless as they speak in a language that can not be understood.

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As this is being experienced in the city, crime and violence are continually experienced especially among the immigrants who don’t understand English. There are several police that is specialized in taking care of the needs of such people but they are not adequate to handle the rising number of foreign immigrants. Some of the crimes that are experienced may not necessarily be due to barriers in communication but also differences in sign languages. What may distinguish one culture from the other may not necessarily be the languages that they use for communication but rather the different interpretations of sign languages. People have different ways of interpreting signs which mainly depends on where they have been brought up. When they go to a different community, they may not be able to understand the difference and hence act according to what they know. These are some of the numerous cases that are reported in New York City as immigrants complain of being misunderstood due to wrong interpretation of signs.

Domestic violence

Victims of domestic violence have been the most hit especially if their assailants are the only English-speaking individuals. They usually report their cases and efforts to get adequate information may not be possible. The police who may have minimal knowledge on the same may not be able to adequately assist them as they may rely on the information that they get from the neighbors and the perpetrators themselves. Some of the victims who may be presented before a police station are unable to record any statement. Some of them that may be aware of the language barrier may choose to keep quiet knowing that they will not be understood. As this happens, their cases may either be postponed or even done away with due to lack of evidence. The court will mostly rely on the witnesses and evidence they obtain to make the judgment. However, it may be quite difficult to rule the cases even if the victims obtained a translator. There is usually no surety that what they are translating is the correct information which may leave them defenseless.


Some of the immigrants may be prosecuted for using certain signs or practicing their own culture. Their actions may be mistaken for something else that may be contrary to the American culture. They may not be unable to convince the court or the police that they practiced out of innocence and that they did not know that it would have such diverse effects on the people around them. When making out judgments, it may not matter about the cultural affiliation of the individual. As long as the action has been carried out in the soil of America, they will use the laws of the land to prosecute individuals. Such immigrants become victims of circumstances as their pleas may be completely ignored by the law. Most of them may not be able to find a lawyer that can convince the court otherwise and hence causing more problems to them.


In a metropolitan city that is dominated by people of various backgrounds, the government must ensure that their estate is protected from harassment and exploitation. Even though the police have been encountered some false cases; most genuine victims are left to suffer. There is nothing much that may be done to assist them due to inadequate evidence in their cases. Few lawyers are specialized in dealing with such cases, yet most of them never get a chance to serve their victims. The city, which is dominated by American natives, leaves the nonnative with little help. The police who may have the ability to help them may become impatient due to their inability to communicate. If they are found in a conflicting situation probably by English speakers, chances are that the English speakers will get away with the mistake. It may not be definite between the two parties to find the individual who was in the wrong. They have the ability to speak in English and hence convincing the police otherwise place them on the winning side. There are however efforts that are being facilitated to ensure that all city dwellers are handled justly despite their cultural backgrounds.

Reference list

  1. Chin, G., (2005). United States Commission on Civil Rights: Documents 10-20. California: Hein.
  2. Hermes, J., (2005). Re-reading popular culture. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
  3. McCormick, C., (2005). Hopeless cases: the hunt for the red scare terrorist bombers. New York: University Press of America.

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StudyCorgi. "Language and Culture Barriers Faced by N.Y.P.D." January 3, 2022.


StudyCorgi. 2022. "Language and Culture Barriers Faced by N.Y.P.D." January 3, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Language and Culture Barriers Faced by N.Y.P.D'. 3 January.

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