South Bend Police Department reaching out to Latino Community - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend Police Department reaching out to Latino Community

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Music, food, a crowd and the police.  It sounds like an out of control party.  But it's not.  The South Bend Police actually hosted this shindig.  Officers are trying to build trust with the Latino community.  Lt. Christopher Voros said, "they see us in those uniforms and there's fear so we're trying to get beyond that fear."

Latino Community Coordinator Juan Hernandez agrees there is fear to overcome.  "it's a lot of word of mouth out there that's scaring the Latino Hispanic community."

He said there's fear of being arrested just for being Latino and a fear of being deported.  "We're not oblivious to what's going on as far as immigration reform and it's a big topic now so until that's all resolved people are going to have mixed feelings," said Hernandez.

Lt. Voros said he sees those fears on the streets as a police officer.  "There's always the fear that all the different police department's are involved with ICE."

But by coming together at events like the Cinco de Mayo celebration Voros and Hernandez hope everyone's fears will subside.  At the event held Sunday police officers and the Latino community mingled.  Hernandez said, "It is bringing us closer. "

Because ultimately if there is trust between the police and the Latino community, it's a safer community.  "When we build trust with the community we are able to get the community to give us more information about the things that are happening within the community.  This info is vital to us to catch the burglars, the robbers," said Voros.

And Voros doesn't want it to stop there.  "I'd like to see more Latinos putting in applications at the police department for employment."

Hernandez said the relationship has already improved thanks to activities between police and the Latino community.  And with continued activities like this the relationship will continue to improve.  "I see it getting far better than what it is now."

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