Janesville officer teaches Spanish to cops nationwide

Print Print
Thursday, August 21, 2008
— Why is a police officer from Janesville teaching Spanish to law enforcement officers all over the country?

Because he saw a need for it through his own experiences on patrol, tapped into his college Spanish and put together a class manual, “Street Cop Spanish.’’

After showing it to the law enforcement trainer at Blackhawk Technical College, officer Chad Sullivan was immediately asked to teach a class of basic Spanish for authorities to use on patrol or in jail. He has since taught Street Cop Spanish to officers in Wisconsin and in New York and is booked to teach more.

“Police officers need to learn to speak some Spanish to be better at their jobs,’’ Sullivan said.

Many of the other Spanish classes for law enforcement are taught by professors who are fluent in Spanish but who have no police experience, Sullivan said. He took some of those classes but realized they were too technical, making them overwhelming for officers who knew no Spanish.

Police want to learn Spanish quickly, so Sullivan made his 16-hour class easy and fun. He teaches with repetition, role-playing, interactive videos and PowerPoint computer presentations.

“They don’t need Spanish experience but have to be open-minded, want to learn Spanish and will have to memorize some phrases,” he said.

Sullivan explained the need for knowing Spanish.

“You’re a police officer and you have to serve everybody in your community, so you should want to learn the language. It also is a resume builder,’’ he said.

“This is easy. You can do this,’’ Sullivan tells his students.

Through his short version of a felony traffic stop, he teaches them 10 one- to three-word phrases.

“They just have to memorize some words and practice. That will allow them to control somebody and be safe. You don’t have to use the whole (Spanish) dictionary, but the more words you know, the more cooperative the person you’re dealing with will be,’’ he said.

Sullivan even created a citation pad for officers in Spanish and English so the officer can explain the citation, fine and court date.

And if he had his way, Street Cop Spanish would be a required class for new recruits at the local police academy.

“There’s no better candidate for my class than a new recruit going out on patrol, who is eager to learn,’’ he said. “This would give them a great start.’’


Janesville police officer Chad Sullivan in the past four years has taught Street Cop Spanish, a class he created, to law enforcement officials throughout the country. This is what some of them had to say about their experience:

-- “It was outstanding. I know they (officers in the department) use the information they obtained during training just about daily because of the large Hispanic population we have in Fitchburg.”—Deputy Chief Don Bates, Fitchburg Police Department

-- “I know they’ve been using things they’ve learned out on the street. The more officers we can get versed in being able to communicate with that segment of the population, the better. The most beneficial is learning specific phrases unique to police lingo so officers can quickly react without thinking too much under the pressure of the moment.”—Lt. Chuck Foulke, Middleton Police Department

-- “He is a terrific cop. It was a great course and extremely useful.’’—Lou Savelli, retired New York Police Department sergeant and president of Homefront Protective Group


Sample phrases Janesville police officer Chad Sullivan teaches law enforcement officials in his Street Cop Spanish class:

-- Alto (Stop).

-- Sientese (Sit down).

-- Espere aqui (Wait here).

-- Sueltelo! (Drop it!).

-- Manos arriba! (Hands Up!).

-- No se mueva! (Don’t move!).

-- Hagalo! (Do it!).

-- Pies juntos (Feet together).

-- Mireme (Look at me).

-- Despacio camine atras (Walk backwards slowly).

-- De rodillas (Get on your knees).

-- Silencio callese (Be quiet).

-- Parese aqui (Stand here).

-- Salga del carro (Get out of the car).

Last updated: 9:57 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

Print Print