Since early on in Ed Moreno’s career, he’s seen the need for more officers who speak Spanish.
“The need is great here in our community to recruit Spanish speaking officers," said Hispanic community liaison for Boise Police Department Ed Moreno.
He recalls one instance where dispatch couldn’t understand a Spanish speaking family whose daughter needed immediate medical attention.
“Upon my arrival, and I recognized the need that their daughter, unfortunately, was not going to make it," said Moreno.
This situation partially sparked the idea for immersion classes. Starting in January, BPD will have a ten-week Spanish course, designed to get more officers speaking conversationally.
“if an officer arrives even if they don’t speak the fluent language, they can at least understand the basic needs of what the family is trying to communicate," said Moreno.
The curriculum will focus on conversational Spanish, but also, later on, will go into legal terms for officers.
“We want our community to feel comfortable going to them, and that’s where the conversational piece comes in because we want the community to feel comfortable when they speak to the police department,” said Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affair's communication resource development specialist J.J. Saldaña.
This community engagement between the Hispanic community hits a personal note for Moreno as well.
“when I was growing up there was none of that outreach from our local law enforcement," said Moreno
Other local departments such as Nampa PD use a language line to fill language barriers when the need arises. Boise p-d's first course of the program expects more than 50 officers to join.
Twin Falls police department has picked up this program and will be following BPD's footsteps. We'll keep you updated throughout the new year.