(AFP) – Oct 23, 2009
CHICAGO — A Texas police chief apologized Friday after at least 39 people received traffic tickets because they couldn't speak English.
"I was surprised and stunned that that would happen in the city of Dallas because we are a very, very diverse city," Dallas police chief David Kunkle said at a press conference.
"I apologize to the Spanish speaking, Hispanic community."
The incident came to light after a woman went to court to challenge a ticket issued by a young officer which cited her for being a "non English speaking driver."
Kunkle said his department reviewed its records and found that 38 similar tickets had been written in the past three years by six different officers.
All fees will be refunded and the police will ask for all convictions to be reversed, he said.
The department is also considering dereliction of duty charges against the officers involved and the sergeants who reviewed the citations.
Kunkle said the misunderstanding of state law could have stemmed from an effort to shift to an electronic citation system.
Lists of citations were distributed which included a federal statute which requires drivers of commercial vehicles to have sufficient proficiency in English to operate the vehicle safely.
"As far as I know with our commercial vehicle enforcement we've never written any citation according to the federal statutes," Kunkle said, adding that the police department does not have the capacity or desire to test English proficiency.
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