Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Tennessee law enforcement stepping up to language challenges

"Memphis — the largest police force in the state with 2,100 officers — has about 20 Spanish-speaking officers and a handful who speak other languages, Fausto Frias, the city's Hispanic liaison officer, said."

"Patrol officers hand out his number to Spanish-speakers on their beat. Frias also speaks to churches, on Spanish radio stations and to community groups as part of his job. It's a position the city created in 2000 after a spate of home invasion robberies led to several murders. Police learned that crimes involving Hispanic victims were going unreported because Spanish-speakers feared the police."

"Knoxville police started a pilot program last year to give cell phones to bilingual residents who graduated from their citizens police academy. The graduates interpret for police on the phones, said spokesman Darrell DeBusk."

Chattanooga: 472 officers, "roughly a dozen" speak Spanish

Murfreesboro: 162 officers, four speak Spanish

The Tennessean

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