The San Antonio Police Department is offering a safe place to turn by reaching out to the Spanish-speaking community.
One game at a time, some families are building up security, united in calling San Antonio home, by embracing where they come from and connecting to their neighborhood as well as police.
“SAPD implemented Unidos to bridge the gap between non-English speaking [people] and police,” Officer Washington Moscoso said.
“It shows an effort is being made on their part to communicate with them, not to just blow them off,” said Tina Aranda of the Alamo Community Group.
In a city with a thriving Hispanic culture, San Antonio police realize that language can sometimes be a barrier, inviting families to meet with bilingual officers.
“I think when the children see me using the Spanish language, they feel a lot more comfortable,” Officer Alfred Gomez said.
What these officers found is that when families have nowhere else to turn, they’re able to help with everything from missing children to domestic violence.
“In some cases, they are hesitant to approach police [because] they feel they might be targeted because of their immigration status, but that’s the furthest from the truth,” Officer Gomez said.
SAPD policy says that officers can only arrest people on suspicion of a crime. They do not ask people they meet for proof of citizenship. They say that this program helps families that are targeted because of their status.
“I’ve seen where the husband tells the wife if she calls the police, he will report her to immigration,” Officer Gomez noted.
It’s an important move to build a bridge for those who may not have known that a helping hand is on the other side.
(© 2016 KENS)