Now here’s what I call strategic workforce planning. The Drug Enforcement Administration is trying to hire up to nine contract linguists who are fluent in Ebonics, according to a request for proposal posted on the Smoking Gun this morning.
The RFP, which was originally released in May, said it needs people in Atlanta to “listen to oral intercepts in English and foreign languages and provide a verbal summary, immediately followed by a typed summary” and then transcribe pertinent calls.
Ebonics is just one of more than 100 languages requested in the RFP. It’s not surprising that the DEA is looking for people who can translate Spanish, Farsi, Korean, and other standard languages — the entire government has struggled to beef up those capabilities in recent years. (They’re also looking for people who can understand the Jamaican patois.) But it seems kind of odd that the DEA feels it has to hire contractors to help it understand what is essentially very heavy black slang.
It sounds like the DEA’s got a bunch of frustrated agents sitting around listening to slang-filled wiretaps and struggling to figure out what the drug dealers are saying — pretty much like every episode of The Wire. Omar comin’.