Janesville officer teaches Spanish to cops

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Ted Sullivan
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
— Manos Arriba! No se mueva! Usted esta arrestado!

Those Spanish phrases—Hands up! Don't move! You are under arrest!—were among many phrases taught to 35 police officers Tuesday during a "Street Cop Spanish" class at Rotary Gardens.

Chad Sullivan, a Janesville police officer, created and teaches the class for officers from around the state. The class helps police learn basic commands to help them communicate with Latino residents.

Julie Bonesteel, a Pewaukee police officer, took the class because she encounters Latinos while on patrol. She said learning cop Spanish will help on the street.

"If there are simple phrases to help me get what I need, that's the goal," she said. "It will help with rapport and also, I think, with officer safety."

James Mankowski, a Belleville police officer, said Latino residents are more likely to be scared if they can't communicate with police. He hopes learning cop Spanish will help serve those residents.

"I can better communicate with them and explain what's going to happen," Mankowski said. "It just builds a stronger bond between our law enforcement and community."

Officers in Tuesday's class were given manuals with basic phrases they will need on patrol. They practiced saying the words and were tested.

Sullivan used videos and PowerPoint presentations in class. He provided students with a small manual to practice on their own.

"They're going to be able to interact with more people in their community," Sullivan said.

Students learned how to ask a person's name, age and address. They practiced commands they would use while making a traffic stop or arrest. They also learned phrases used to get control of a dangerous situation.

Sullivan, who minored in Spanish in college, created the class after realizing the language was useful while on patrol.

Officers can better serve Latino residents, receive more cooperation and stay safer if they speak the language, Sullivan said.

He thought other officers could benefit if they knew the basics.

Other Spanish classes for law enforcement are overwhelming and taught by professors who have no police experience, Sullivan said.

"I'm not a teacher," he said. "I'm a cop."

He has taught his simple, user-friendly class to officers in Rock County and has gone to New York to teach.

Tuesday's class was the first in what could be a regular offering for police in the region.

Last updated: 11:22 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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