(KATV) The Hispanic population
was almost non-existent only two decades ago but the quick growth in Spanish-speaking
immigrants has placed new concerns for first responders because of a language
and culture barrier.
Arkansas has a small Hispanic/Latino
population, at just 6.4, but in the past decade the state has remained in the
top five for the largest percentage of growth.
Sgt. Brian Dedrick with
the North Little Rock Police Department says, "We have a lot more Spanish
speaking individuals in our community. So we have had to do some things to
adapt to it. Those things include, we offer officers the opportunity to take first responder Spanish classes, they have sheets with words translated in Spanish, they can take a laptop home with Rosetta Stone on it and they can register for College Spanish classes."
Members of the North
Little Rock Police Department are taking conversational Spanish to bridge the
language barrier gap. The goal isn't to become bilingual but to learn words to
be able to understand one another until an interpreter or bilingual first
responder arrives. "It's challenging because we want to be able to understand
and find out what the needs are," Sgt. Dedrick adds.
After all the talk about
the English only movement, Sgt. Dedrick says the fact remains that first
responder services need to be provided to all in need.
In today's society, there
is a mixture of Hispanic culture and the traditions usually migrate with each
group, everyone here with the hope of a brighter future.
Maura Lozano-Yancy says, "They
come like any other migrant population has come in the years before; it is for
better opportunities, mostly because of their children."
Lozano-Yancy started the Second
Language Institutein 2010. She says, "We have trained officers for the city of
Maumelle, Little Rock, North Little Rock, several of the court systems have
come through the classes specialized in law enforcement and first
According to the U.S. Census,
Hispanics in the state are young, more than 40% are under 18 years old, and
they speak English. Lozano-Yancy says it's the adults who move to the U.S. who
have trouble learning a new language.
Leonor Garcia is the
mother of Patricia Guardado, the UALR student who was murdered one year ago. Garcia
says she struggles to speak with officers, and it's agonizing to wait for an
interpreter to give her an update on Patricia's murder case that has grown
cold, there have been no arrests.
Garcia says she sometimes
has her kids translate and she appreciates that officers are getting involved
in the community and learning key words in Spanish.
Some businesses offer a
bonus for bilingual employees, but most police department's pay based on test
scores and the education level completed.
Wednesday, June 19 2013 12:31 PM EDT2013-06-19 16:31:23 GMT
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