Monday, July 24, 2017
San Mateo County watchdog gives police high marks on outreach
A citizen watchdog group gave high marks overall to law enforcement on access to outreach for non-English primary speakers in the county, but found a few agencies lagging.
The 2016-17 San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury lauded nine police departments for offering “an impressive array of outreach events and are to be commended for having interpreters at many of these programs for the languages widely spoken in the communities they serve,” in a report dated June 29. Those agencies include Redwood City, San Mateo, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto on the Peninsula. Of the county’s estimated 729,543 residents, 305,069 (41.8 percent) self-report that their primary language is not English, and nearly half of those residents (130,019) state they don’t speak English “very well.”
The civil grand jury dinged law enforcement agencies serving Atherton, Brisbane, Colma and Hillsborough for making no mention of outreach programs on their websites. It also reported that Daly City — which, at 64.2 percent, contains the county’s highest percentage of residents who speak languages other than English — offers no interpreters for its outreach programs.
The report commended nine of the county’s 17 law enforcement agencies for providing web access in multiple languages, citing East Palo Alto’s as “particularly effective.” East Palo Alto’s website allows users to choose from more than 100 languages, as does the website for the city of Menlo Park. The county’s Sheriff’s Office is among eight agencies that do not offer multilingual websites.
The civil grand jury found that there are more than 170 outreach programs in place in the county. It said it is “essential” that awareness of this outreach be supplemented on agencies’ websites.
“Promoting these programs through agency websites and extending outreach in multiple languages is essential if English and non-English speaking residents alike are to benefit from them,” the report states.
The civil grand jury recommends that all county law enforcement agencies modify their websites to allow multilingual translation by Dec. 31. It also recommends all agencies make all of their outreach programs available on their home pages or via a prominent link on the home page to an outreach programs page by that date.
July 12, 2017
The Mercury News
By Kevin Kelly