Spanish For Law Enforcement
Resources and Tools

The ability to communicate in Spanish for law enforcement personnel is becoming more and more important. Nowadays, Spanish translators aren't the only ones who have to worry about the latest resources for becoming better translators.

Oftentimes, people in other industries don't have the ability to contract out to interpreters or translators and have to rely on what they know or what they can have immediate access to.

Police officers, as well as others, are continually under stress to perform on their job and having to worry about communicating in a language other than their own can only add to the amount of stress.

When police officers are on the job, they often don't have access to the necessary tools or resources to do their job when confronting a person that only speaks Spanish.

In order to help overcome this barrier, I have devoted this page to identifying resources specific to Spanish for law enforcement needs.

Spanish for Law Enforcement: Translators

One of the best ways to be able to communicate quickly and effectively without completely knowing the language is to use electronic translators. There are many translators on the market right now and more are sure to come out. However, Spanish for law enforcement is very specific.

There are certain needs that you as a law enforcement officer have when it comes to being able to communicate. Do you need to know how to say "Where's the bathroom?" exactly? Most likely that won't be the case. Because of that, a traditional electronic Spanish translator won't give you what you need.

So what will you need? A translator able to give you equivalents in Spanish for law enforcement. You're going to need a unit that can understand thousands of typical police commands spoken in English and is capable of pronouncing the translations in the language you want, Spanish.

Police work demands from an individual to constantly be on guard, to detect, anticipate and resolve intense and disorderly situations in any community, in any language. So, in instances where misunderstandings are unaffordable, and you are dealing with persons who speak no or little English, use a translator that you can use to ask questions and get answers in the form of clear-cut signs and words that YOU can understand.

The Police SpeechGuard PD-4 from Ectaco is the perfect tool that can accomplish all of the above. And not only will you be able to translate into Spanish, but Arabic and Russian as well. It also comes with the ability to personalize the vocabulary by recording your own personal data and entries. So if you need a translator that can take the stress out of your day on the job, check out the Spanish for law enforcement translator from Ectaco.

If you own a Pocket PC and only need English to Spanish capabilities (instead of Spanish, Russian, and Arabic), you might be better suited for the ECTACO Law Enforcement Universal Translator for Pocket PC English -> Spanish. The Police UT is an English to Spanish phrase bank with speech recognition capability. You say a phrase in English, and the machine recognizes it and pronounces the Spanish translation.

The phrase bank consists of phrases called for by policemen themselves, and contains more than 2300 phrases.

What's cool is that you can download an evaluation version for free to see if you like it. And for about as much as it costs for a couple tanks of gas, it's a great deal and an easy way to communicate in Spanish for law enforcement needs you have.

Spanish for Law Enforcemetn: Books

If electronic translators aren't your style, or if you are one of those people who have to read it out of a book to understand it (that's how I am), then maybe a book specifically focusing on Spanish for law enforcement is the way you should go.

There are hundreds of books out there that claim to be the best for law enforcement personnel who want to learn Spanish. Make sure that when you do your research, you know what you want. Ask yourself some simple questions before you invest:

  • Do you have any previous background knowledge with Spanish?
  • Do you want a quick reference guide or a learning aid?
  • Do you need the pronunciations included?

By answering these questions, you'll be able to narrow down your search and find a book that will help you the most and there will be a less likely chance that you'll be frustrated with the book you end up buying.

You can either click here to find books specific to police personnel, or you can follow this linkfor more general books related to Spanish for law enforcement personnel.

Spanish for Law Enforcement: Courses

If you'd rather have a hands approach to picking up some Spanish to use on the job and would like some more structure than a simple book or an electronic Spanish translator can offer, there is another option that you have: courses designed specifically for learning Spanish for law enforcement.

Courses often fall into one of two categories: 1) those that are taught by instructors (seminar-style) and 2) those that you do on your own.

There is a difference in these two approaches and it's important to (again) know what it is you want or need so that you can be satisfied with the choice you make. First of all, self-paced study courses usually consist of books with study aids and audio tapes or CDs that allow you to practice along with the books.

These self-paced courses can be a good option if you are pressed for time, or don't have the option of taking an instructor-led class. Also, they are often cheaper than going to classes. (That shouldn't be a problem, though, if your employer is willing to foot the bill.) However, these types of courses require something that many people have a hard time providing: motivation. If you had trouble with independent study courses in college, or find it difficult to keep motivated, self-paced courses might not be the best option for you. Also, with these courses, you'll have to find your own subjects to practice on, and that can be a little intimidating for some people.

Here are some links to self-paced courses I've run across in my travels over the Internet:

If you would rather be led by an instructor and have some interaction with other students, an instructor-led course is probably the best option for you. There are a wide variety of courses offered in every part of the country, as well as outside the country.

Before you go to the Internet to find something, check with the people that you work with and any other contacts you might have with universities and other agencies that might offer classes specific to Spanish for law enforcement.

These types of classes often include classroom materials such as books, exercises, and tapes or CDs for listening practice much like self-paced courses. However, the benefit you get from instructor-led courses is that you have someone to ask questions to and get have role-playing practices with other students in the class, which is always helpful.

If you can't find any courses where you're at, or if you'd just like to see what's out there, below are some courses and seminars that are specifically aimed helping you learn and use the Spanish you'll while working in law enforcement.

Whatever method you choose for learning Spanish, make sure that you get whatever feels most comfortable for you. You'll be glad in the end.

Return from Spanish for Law Enforcement back to Spanish Translators for more on becoming a successful translator.