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‘Police are here for community,' Orange PD's effort to connect with Spanish-speaking residents

The Orange Police Department has been a different type of police work that does not involve lights and sirens for 20 years.

The department, which puts on the Hispanic Community Outreach program, held its graduation ceremony for its latest class Wednesday.

“I’m very happy to complete the six meetings and get my certificate here,” said Elia Vasquez, one of about 35 graduates this year.

The Orange resident — a mother of two — left the classroom with a certificate and the trust of officers.

“After I finish the class, I feel more confidence to call the police,” said Vazquez who planned share her experience with her neighbors.

“I’m going to talk to the people because the police is here for the community.”

Participants get a glimpse into every aspect of policing: from a peek at patrol cars to K9 unit training and gang enforcement.

The program, which is taught in Spanish, partnered with the Orange Unified School District this year. ]

Every year, for the past two decades, the goal is the same.

“They realize they are part of our community, that we are one,” said Lt. Phil McMullin, the department’s public information officer. “We want the same goal. They want safe communities they can raise their children. They want to be able to live drug and crime-free, and we want them to feel comfortable calling us.”

Police said that comfort level isn’t always there especially with the Spanish-speaking community. According to the U.S. Census, about 34% of people who live in the City of Orange are Latino. 

“There’s been times, misconceptions that we would deport people, that they wouldn’t want to call in domestic violence, wouldn’t want to call in for fear of retaliation,” said McMullin. “We want them to know when we work together, we can stop that crime, but we need the help from the community.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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