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Long Island News

Suffolk Police Spanish Program To Aid Community Relations

Suffolk County police
Elvert Barnes

Suffolk County police officers will learn how to speak Spanish in a pilot program that aims to address the relationship between law enforcement and Long Island’s growing Latino population.

About 20 police officers are enrolled in the course through Suffolk County Community College.

Police Chief Stuart Cameron said learning Spanish will help police interact with Long Island’s large Latino community.

“Let's face it, speaking to people is an essential tool of law enforcement and you really can't help people unless you can communicate with them.”

Cameron said the program could help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts between law enforcement and the public.

“I believe [it] could really prevent a tragedy. That could prevent someone from being on the road longer than they have to, or being hit by a car or they could prevent someone from making some type of unintentional movement because they don't understand we’re looking for someone who may be armed.”

The department plans to allocate more money from grants to additional Spanish classes.

Suffolk County also offers a separate Spanish language entrance exam to attract Latino applicants to the police department.