Police Creating Hispanic Outreach Program

The Hispanic population is really growing in our area. When Hispanics become victims of crime, many are too afraid to report it because the don't speak English. Now law enforcement is trying to bridge the language gap.

If you don't understand what other people are saying, then how do you know whom to trust? For police, earning that trust from the Hispanic community can be difficult.

"That's the biggest thing, is communication," said Sgt. Armando Tamargo with the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department. "We've said before the programs are there, but the problem is the accessibility for the Latin community, is them understanding what the programs are and that they're available to them."

Geraldo Jimenez, who just immigrated to Savannah from Mexico, says he's reluctant to speak with police for fear of deportation. He also admitted he had no idea he actually had rights or would even know how to report a crime.

"If there's somebody bad that's in the area, they don't know what to do," Sgt. Tamargo translated for him.

And knowing many Hispanic immigrants will fail to report crimes makes them easy targets for criminals. "Criminals do their homework like anybody else and find that these targets are easy and also the communication barrier when they call 911," said Tamargo.

To help bridge the language barrier, the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department is working with several other agencies to create a Hispanic outreach program to deal with these growing concerns and to let the Hispanic community know they deserve the same protection as everybody else.

Another problem facing SCMPD police: not enough officers who speak Spanish. Right now they only have around eight.

If you have an questions about the Hispanic outreach program, contact:

Sgt. Armando Tamargo
Precinct 2

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com