South Bend police celebrate holiday with Latino community - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend police celebrate holiday with Latino community

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The Latino population of South Bend and the South Bend Police Department came together on Sunday to celebrate Dia de la Candelaria. It is a holiday that is a follow-up to Dia de Los Reyes or King's Day. Police officers joined the community is eating food, playing games and dancing.  

"It's good to know they are helping our community and keeping us safe," Monsette Zimmerman said. She was one of the dancers who performed at the celebration.

"When you see them come out and they're having a good time it makes you feel like you're accomplishing something," Officer Tony Pacheco said. "You've done something for the community which is ultimately your goal." 

Dia de la Candelaria was on February 2nd but given that the Super Bowl was played that day, the event was moved to February 9th.

The event was put on from a collaboration of La Casa de Amistad and the South Bend Athletic League and was held at the ZB Falcon Hall. La Casa de Amistad is a Latino youth and community center located on the Westside of South Bend. It puts on cultural events and programs to support the Latino community. The South Bend Police Department works with this organization with activities throughout the year.

"Every year ramped up our involvement with the program so this year they got me dressed up and we're doing all these different things to just celebrate a really cool, cultural tradition," Executive Director of La Casa de Amistad Sam Centellas said. 

The goal of the partnership is to hold events that bring the community and police officers together to form a trusting relationship. The idea is that the people would be more likely to report of crimes or come forth with information to the police department. Lieutenant Christopher Voros of the South Bend Police Department says that he has formed this bond with the community.  

"I get many people from the Latino community calling me on my line at the police station to report crimes or things that have been happening because I've built this relationship with the people," Voros said.

"It's events like this that builds that trust and they have proven this in the past and they're proving it now," President of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce Juan Hernandez said.  

There have been a number of events such as this put on in the past but this was the first to celebrate Dia de la Candelaria. The next event the South Bend Police Department and Latino community will come together for is Cinco de Mayo. It will be held on Sunday May 4. Last year's event drew over 2,500 people and a larger crowd is expected this year.

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