SIRCOMM: Changes To Language Line 'Blown Out Of Proportion'

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By Brittany Cooper

Jerome, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Last month SIRCOMM decided that language line services are only to be accessed for 911 calls and extreme emergencies. Spearheaded by Director John Moore, the service cannot be used for non–emergency calls. But Moore feels the change has been blown out of proportion.

Moore told us that the change to the language line services is only due to rising costs, but a 9–11 dispatcher feels differently.

911 Dispatcher Daniel Haney claims, "it was quite a shock to myself and several other people that they would come out and discriminate on such a level like this. That they're not going to help people for non–emergency stuff that don't speak English anymore unless they provide their own translator. "

Daniel Haney has worked as a 911 dispatcher for more than six years and tells us the dispatchers access the language line on a daily basis. The service provides the caller and emergency personnel with a certified translator.

Haney adds, "the problem with having people provide their own translator is we can't guarantee they'll be able to translate effectively and accurately for the information that we need that would essential for us to do our jobs."

John Moore, SIRCOMM Director explains, "there may be a few challenges, but I've directed SIRCOMM dispatchers and administrative staff to make sure when a non–English speaking person calls the language line to determine if it's a non–emergency call or not and at that time, if it's non–emergency to advise them to get an interpreter or have a family member give us a call."

When we asked Moore what led to his decision, he says they've seen an increase in price from $3–500 a month and the rising cost came from the language line for non–emergency services.

"Along with the decision that was made to help reduce costs to the taxpayers, and to SIRCOMM, we have also found there is sometimes there is not resources available for those who calling into SIRCOMM for assistance...so if we are dealing with someone without resources, not family, just passing through the area, or down on their luck we will continue help them the best that we can, whether we use emergency services or get someone out there to interpret for them," adds Moore.

The language line is not to help the jail in any of their functions or to assist an officer when taking a report.

Moore says, "what we have researched, there should not be a huge cost to the jail, if any, just to use the system in place and more efficiently."

Agencies will have to provide their own resources for these issues.

According to Haney, there are approximately 17 dispatchers who frequently utilize the language line.


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