A Dallas Police Chief has reported that he and his deputies have written close to 40 tickets recently for not speaking English. According to the Dallas Morning News:
Apologizing publicly to the city’s Spanish-speaking community, the chief said all officers and supervisors involved will be investigated for dereliction of duty. All pending citations will be dismissed, and people who paid fines will be reimbursed.
What makes this so egregious is the fact that there is simply no law in Dallas or Texas that requires any driver to speak English. This controversy only came to light recently when one officer, Gary Bromley, issued a citation to an Ernestina Mondragon for being a “non-English speaking driver”. He actually wrote that on the citation!
The police department writes this particular offense off due to a rookie mistake. Okay, I get that, but how do you explain 40 such similar citations issued in the last 3 years? Sounds like Dallas has some rather incompetent policemen or there is some blatant racism that has permeated the Dallas Police force.
The more prudent question here is, should we require our drivers to be able to at least read English? Many states and the federal government require certain commercial drivers to either be able to read or communicate in English, but how about the average, every day citizen? There are safety signs, traffic signs and other situations where having a command of the English language might make a whole lot of sense. The problem is you have to make it apply to everyone. Native English speakers should be able to demonstrate the same basic English skills that a Spanish speaker from Mexico must. It does make me wonder how people are able to pass the written portion of the driving test without knowing English though. Scary.