Public Safety Forum Bridges Language Gap for Hispanic Community

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Whether it's responding to an accident, crime scene, or taking a complaint, Rockford Police often run into a language barrier with the Hispanic community, but the department is working to bridge that gap.

The Hispanic community has the same concerns as everyone else. They're worried about crime, drugs, and gangs. The difference is they don't always know how to communicate those fears to police. So Wednesday night the police department held a public forum, in Spanish, to answer some common questions like how to report crimes and what to do if stopped by police. Officers say many times crimes and problems within the Latino community go unreported because there's a fear of the police.

"A lot of Hispanic people, they are kind of scared of police because they don't have driver license or stuff like that,” Hispanic Resident, Ana Rocco, explained.

Police spent about an hour answering specific questions. Some people said they’d been victimized but never reported the crime because they didn't know how. Other's wanted to know how to find out if criminals live in their neighborhood, and how to report neighbors who are noisy or causing trouble.

This was the third forum for the Hispanic community. Police plan on doing more over the next few months to continue improving their relationship.

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