STOCKTON (CBS13) — Police officers in Stockton are working to close the gap between law enforcement and members of the Hispanic community and clear up some misconceptions.
For the second year, the department has hosted a Spanish-Speaking Citizen's Community Academy.
Johanna Carvajal of Stockton says most people in the Hispanic community tend to avoid any dealings with police because of a big fear they're connected to immigration officials.
"Police may be working with ICE, the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement department. That's all she hears on TV, on the radio and among her family and friends," she said.
But when she found out the difference, Carvajal was eager to find out more. She signed up for the Spanish-speaking Citizens Community Academy at the Stockton Police Department, a two-hour a week course that runs for six weeks.
"I have much respect for the police now. The academy helped me understand how the department works and now I can share that with other people, so they don't have to afraid anymore," said Carvajal.
Carvajal and other participants got an inside look at the police department with face-to-face meetings with patrol officers, gang detectives and homicide investigators – all the men and women working to protect the community.
"It's a chance for us to connect with the Hispanic community so that we can build a relationship with them so they can be more forthcoming when they see a crime or when they want to report crime," said Rosie Calderon of the Stockton Police Department.
This is the second year police have organized this type of academy. Officers say the hope is to continue educating families and help build trust through the academy.
"This is a chance for them to ask questions of the police officers, of the detectives, and get a straight forward answer. All those questions that they have had are myths or that they are not sure of, this is a chance for them to ask those questions," she said.
The Stockton Police Department is planning to host another academy sometime next summer – and they are actively recruiting.
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