In cities with high immigrant populations calling 911 becomes a problem

I have this massive backlog of stories I should have posted, so I’m going to try to dash through a bunch of articles in my queue this  morning.  Here is an article from Ft. Wayne, Indiana a city we reported on just two days ago here, about how challenging it is for local law enforcement and emergency people to understand what refugees, in this case the Burmese, are asking.

From the Journal Gazette:

Dawn McGahen doesn’t remember taking calls from Burmese-speaking people when she was hired as a Fort Wayne police dispatcher in 1995. Dispatchers now take dozens of these calls each year.

As the number of Burmese refugees in the city has grown, so has the need for Burmese-speaking police officers and dispatchers. But the department has no officers who speak Burmese, and all dispatchers speak only English.

Read on.

I’ve heard some incredible stories over the last few years of the things refugees call 911 for, and wonder if this isn’t a role for the resettlement agencies.  Shouldn’t they be teaching the basics, including dealing with an emergency, in the early months of a refugee’s resettlement?  This responsibility shouldn’t fall completely on the city.  Or, is this another of those unfunded mandates coming down from Washington?

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