Latino group, police to join forces to improve relationship
Police Chief Dave Moore and Rene¢ Bue of the Latino Service Providers Coalition said they want a Latino advisory group to meet every three months to have open communication from both sides.
“It is important because, culturally, there are some differences and a lot of misconceptions because of the cultural differences,” Bue said. “What we think is important is creating that trust and making Latinos in Janesville feel comfortable enough that they won’t be afraid to report crimes or help police.”
For example, language barriers cause problems between Latino residents and police, Bue said. Latinos also often distrust police because of corrupt law enforcement in their home country.
Latino residents are important to the police department, Moore said, and cultural differences could make it easy to develop problems or the perception of problems.
Regular meetings should open communication lines and prevent a confrontational relationship, which is common in some cities, Moore said.
“The more culturally competent our officers are, the more successful this agency will be,” he said.
The groups will offer each other training opportunities that should benefit both sides.
For example, police could educate Latinos about car upkeep to avoid traffic stops for minor violations, Bue said. They also could teach Latinos about the law.
Latinos could teach police about their culture and language to help officers understand them better, Bue said.
The two sides have met once, and the group is in the process of inviting members to join, Moore said. Their meetings will be at the police department to show everyone it’s a safe place where people shouldn’t feel intimidated.
Other agencies involved include the YWCA of Rock County and Justice Overcoming Borders. The group’s first task will be to identify its goals, Moore said.
The Latino coalition also wants to work with other law enforcement agencies and city officials to open dialogue and form outreach programs, Bue said.