The Organización Latino-Americana is in the middle of a five-week Latino Diversity Training for Riverhead police.
Minerva Perez, the executive director of OLA of Eastern Long Island, says the goal is to foster dialogue that encourages a “safer community for all.”
“We’re not just talking at law enforcement, we are opening it up so we can get information from them about what they see as challenges within the community, and if there’s any sort of information that is critical and life-saving that we can impart to Latino members of the community, then we are going to share that information with them.”
Perez is concerned that Latinos are hesitant to report crimes because they are scared of law enforcement.
“What we’re trying to do is eradicate any sort of barrier that would slow or stop any person in our community, and right now most especially vulnerable Latinos, from going to law enforcement, for protection, to report crime as a victim or as a witness.”
Perez wants the police to use more language lines, where an officer can call an interpreter to break down any language barrier. She also wants police to feel comfortable dealing with the Latino community.