Program to Field 911 Calls in 24 Languages Praised

Mayor Tom Bradley and Los Angeles Police Department officials this week hailed a 3 1/2-month program with AT&T; in which 1,300 calls in 24 languages, including Korean, Farsi, Hungarian and the Hindi dialect of Gujurati, have been fielded by 911 emergency operators.

Under the program, 911 calls from callers who neither speak English nor Spanish can be routed to AT&T;'s Language Line Service, where an interpreter becomes the third party on the line. Since it began in April, 1,300 calls in 24 languages have been received, including a domestic disturbance call in Ethiopian and a suicide attempt by a man who only spoke Romanian. The 911 center already is staffed with Spanish-speaking operators.

The service, costing $1.94 a minute per call, is available to the five city agencies--the Police Department, the Fire Department, the Department of Water and Power, the Department of Airports and the city Library Department.