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Help Wanted: More Spanish-Speaking Cops on LI

June 17, 2011

HEMPSTEAD VILLAGE, N. Y. - More Spanish-speaking police officers on the beat is the goal of a forum slated for Saturday in Hempstead.

The Long Island Civic Participation Project (LICPP) says recent census data indicates large increases in the Hispanic population of Hempstead, although the group says only seven police officers on the force are fluent in Spanish. According to Project Organizer Javier Gallardo, the numbers really do tell the story.

"With the immigrant community at about 40 percent – in these areas, the police departments only have, like, five percent."

Gallardo explains Hispanics are much less likely to report crimes and to interact with police if they feel they won't be understood. He hopes the forum and other outreach efforts result in more police candidates from Long Island's immigrant community.

"The next hiring process in Nassau (County) is going to be either the end of the year or the beginning of next year, so we can announce it in the community and aggressively recruit in the community."

Finding solutions to the problem will result in safer communities for everyone, adds Gallardo. LICPP is working with Nassau County, Hempstead and Freeport villages, elected officials and police departments to promote the hiring of more bilingual officers.

The forum is Saturday, June 18, at 2:00 p.m., at the Hempstead Public Library.

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - NY