Specifically, according to a front page article in the City & Region section of the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer, “it’s a matter of interpretation”.
The Inky states that alleged “failings” in the police department’s handling of language interpretation issues “could violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964”.
The Inquirer’s Gaiutra Bahadur forcefully takes the position in the article that Philadelphia police officers come up woefully short in their ability to effectively deal with the diversity in the city’s many immigrant cultures, more specifically the diversity of languages spoken by it’s citizens in the Hispanic and Asian communities.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The real problem at its core, as hard as this always is for those who hear it to admit, is the failure of some immigrants to effectively assimilate and learn the English language on coming to America.
There is thus a "9% Solution" to Philly's language barrier problem, and the language barrier problem for any immigrant coming to live, work, or study in the United States and that is to learn English.
The Inquirer’s own article comes complete with a pie chart, tucked back on page four of the City section, that shows 80% of Philadelphians, 4 of every 5 citizens, speaks English at home already, and that a full 91% of our citizens speak English “very well”.
For those 91%, in other words for more than nine out of every 10 people residing in the city limits who come in contact with it’s police officers, there is absolutely no language barrier with police officers or any other city employee.
For that matter, those nine in 10 have no language barrier with any segment of American society. This is absolutely essential to not only effectively understand what is going on in the city and the nation, but in the world as a whole.
Understanding the anchors on local television news, the broadcasters on pivotal radio stations such as KYW 1060am, even reading the Philadelphia Inquirer itself, makes everyday life easier, safer, and a more full and rich experience.