Officers Breaking Language Barriers - - The News for South Mississippi

Officers Breaking Language Barriers

Biloxi patrol officer Daisy Watson makes regular stops at The Little Ethnic Store on Judge Sekul Avenue. 

The Spanish speaking officer is a welcome sight to Rivera who speaks little English. He tells Watson about his problems trying to open a restaurant inside the store. 

"He advised me he's having some trouble getting an architect out here and things like that. He's trying to build this community up for the Hispanics," Watson says.

Watson and other Spanish speaking officers in Biloxi try to build a comfortable language rapport with the Coast's newest citizens. 

"They feel more relaxed, they can talk easier. When their English is broken up, it's just too hard for them to get the message through exactly," she says.

"It's very, very worth the police speak Hispanic, very important," Rivera says.

Along with relying on bi-lingual officers, Gulfport police dispatchers will begin this week using Language Line. They call a number in California and in just seconds dispatchers connect with interpreters fluent in 150 languages. In our area, Vietnamese and Spanish are the biggest communication gaps. 

Deputy Chief Alfred Sexton says, "They're part of our community and we have to provide emergency services for them and we want to be able to get that information for them to provide those services."

Officers say breaking language barriers saves crucial time, and in some instances, lives of police officers and citizens.

by Marcia Hill

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