Yakima P.D. Says Spanish-Speakers Aren't a Taxpayer Burden - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima P.D. Says Spanish-Speakers Aren't a Taxpayer Burden

YAKIMA, Wash.  --  There's some local debate over the cost of interpreters to city police departments.

A Kennewick city councilman wants his city to start charging residents who need one.  He doesn't think taxpayers should be footing the bill.

Captain Rod Light of the Yakima Police Department says they staff bilingual officers, so they don't have to pay a separate interpreter.  "It's a tool, it's another means of getting the job done. And it's something we have to have here." Light says.

There is a salary incentive for bilingual officers though, they make a little more than those who don't speak Spanish.

Light says, "There is a bilingual incentive with the department, which is good. It's a commodity, we need it here."

The Yakima Police Department has seminars from time to time as well, to teach its officers basic Spanish, enough to get by when they're responding to a call.

But if they need an officer who's fluent, there's one just a phone call away. "Once the officer arrives on the scene and determines that he needs an interpreter, they'll then call dispatch.  We'll send another officer to either assist, or take the call over." says Light.

He adds that only happens once or twice a week, because dispatchers usually know when a Spanish-speaking officer should be sent out.