Entry for September 1, 2008



The Town of Hillsborough Police Department (San Mateo County, California) the second town south from here, is trying out an ECTACO Speechguard PD-5, a handheld device that hold 3000 phrases to be translated into 25 languages on the spoken command of the officer.  With thousands of local residents having little or no English and the number of languages spoken far exceeding multi-lingual hiring efforts, traffic stops and other routine police contacts can be very frustrating and time consuming, particularly if the citizen cannot immediately call an English speaker to translate.  This model, costing about $950, had been advertised in a law enforcement magazine, and cannot translate responses or anything not programmed, but the company reports, “could be any important message you need to convey repeatedly or broadcast to a wide audience: Miranda or NITSA warning, evacuation procedure for your office building, special announcement in a riot control situation, information for patients during intake procedure, etc.”  These same non-English users who frustrate police present the same challenges for animal control personnel, so translation devices could come in handy to communicate to non-English using animal owners, as well.


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