Media Contact

Aaron Welcher, Communications Director, ACLU of Utah, 317-376-0468,

July 12, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah Foundation, Inc. (ACLU of Utah) releases major recommendations to enhance language access policies across Utah’s law enforcement agencies (LEAs) when interacting with people with limited English proficiency (LEP). The groundbreaking report, “Translation & Interpretation as a Right: Examining Language Access Policies Across Utah's Law Enforcement Landscape”, is a comprehensive analysis that scrutinizes the current language access policies of LEAs, including sheriff's offices, police departments, and the Utah Highway Patrol.

About Utah’s Limited English-Proficient Population

An individual with limited English proficiency is someone with limited ability to speak, read, write, or understand English.

  • Utah is home to approximately 148,324 LEP individuals and that number is rising.
  • No one over the age of fourteen speaks English “very well” in approximately 24,322 households.
  • In ascending order, the top 5 counties with LEP populations ranging from 5,335 to 75,697 are Washington, Davis, Weber, Utah, and Salt Lake counties.
  • San Juan County is home to many LEP individuals, primarily speaking Diné Bizaad (the Navajo language), accounting for 11.2% of the county’s population.

Individuals with limited English proficiency have long faced significant challenges navigating experiences with government entities, mainly when dealing with law enforcement agencies. Due to decentralized law enforcement agencies throughout Utah, where Sheriffs and Police Chiefs hold the power of discretion over policies not explicitly mandated by statute, there is a lack of uniformity in language access policies across state and local agencies.

“Everyone deserves equitable treatment, dignity, and respect when interacting with law enforcement, regardless of whether they speak, read, write, or understand English. Limited English proficiency individuals face language barriers in their everyday lives and fear that these barriers can lead to law enforcement mistreating them, infringing on their rights, or causing harm,” said Andrea Daniela Jimenez Flores, Immigrants’ Rights Policy Fellow for the ACLU of Utah and author of this report.

The major recommendations for Utah LEAs to remove language barriers to protect LEP individuals during their encounters with law enforcement include:

  1. Fostering stakeholder feedback to ensure that policies meet the community's needs,
  2. Redistributing resources to identify language needs in the community,
  3. Adopting policies that enable law enforcement members to communicate effectively with LEP individuals during interactions,
  4. Improving staff and officer training around language accessibility.

“Law enforcement agencies in Utah are responsible for ensuring that LEP individuals are treated equitably and that their rights are not impeded. Creating, implementing, and abiding by robust language access policies that meet community needs are necessary steps for law enforcement agencies in Utah to reduce language barriers when interacting with LEP individuals and ensure their rights are protected and maximize community wellbeing,” explained Ms. Jimenez Flores.

We invite community leaders, policymakers, law enforcement officials, and advocates to review the report and join us in ensuring compliance with constitutional standards and promoting effective communication with individuals from diverse linguistic backgrounds.

To download the full report "Translation & Interpretation as a Right: Examining Language Access Policies Across Utah's Law Enforcement Landscape," click here.

A copy of this release can be found here.