Monday, September 7, 2009

Milwaukee Bilingual Police Officers Are Paid Less Than Other Police Departments

Officers get $1.00 for each hour they are translating, and police aides don't get paid extra for translating

By H. Nelson Goodson
September 7th, 2009

Milwaukee - The Milwaukee Police Union for years have tried to get officers a pay raise when they are on the field translating for the City of Milwaukee. Today, officers get a dollar for each hour they translate in any language, including sign language. The officers who accumulate hours of translating would have to submit quarterly slips to get compensated.
Some officers who do translate say, they don't even turn the slips in because it has become hectic to do so. The officers who do turn them in get paid every three months. However, police aides in Police District Two in the South side of Milwaukee don't even get paid extra for translating and are left to compensate for those officers who are not available when needed to translate.
At times, officers have to use an 800 number for translation help, which the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) has contracted with a private company to help officers with translating on the field or when people call 911 and can't speak English. MPD pays at least $25 per minute for using the translating firm, according to officers. The $25 fee for translating could not be confirmed due to the Labor Day weekend holiday.
On Sunday, Officer Juan Lopez who has been with MPD for the last 12 years says, he practically translates almost everyday while on duty. Lopez also gets assignments to translate while off duty, but gets to work overtime. Officer Lopez on Sunday was assigned to Operation Impact in the near South side area. Operation Impact was initiated with the help of Alderman Bob Donovan and area businesses. The businesses compensate the officers while working during Operation Impact, according to Lopez.
Lopez and other officers who translate would like the City of Milwaukee to negotiate a pay raise with the Milwaukee Police Association compatible to other police departments in the country where a large concentration of diverse cultures exists. Like in Milwaukee where a majority of officers confront language barriers everyday during traffic stops and emergencies.

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