The Hispanic Community is growing here in Northern Nevada, up to 30% of the population by some estimates. That's why the Washoe County Sheriff's Office put together a special program catering to this segment of the community.
The program also sets out to clear up some misconceptions. Some say there's a general distrust of law enforcement in the Hispanic Community. Also, concerns about discrimination. So the sheriff's office says the "Hispanic Citizens Academy" was put together to set the record straight. Its a 12-week class taught in Spanish that will reveal the ins and outs of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office day-to-day operations.
"We're gonna show them SWAT exercises, they're gonna get the opportunity to shoot, to drive the new police simulator, learn about the canine unit, DUI's, all the things a new recruit would experience in the academy," says Darren Rice, a deputy with the Washoe County Sheriff's Office.
The special program will go beyond law enforcement basics. Its also an effort by the sheriff's office to reach out to the growing Hispanic Community and clear up some confusion.
"People see the green uniform of the sheriff's office and we're confused with INS or ICE," Rice says. "We want to explain that we're not immigration. We're here to help them and provide services."
"There's a lot of questions, people afraid to get help from the sheriff's department because afraid of immigration services to get back to our country," says Jorge Ruiz, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a student in the class.
About 20 members of the Hispanic Community are taking the class...and both teachers and students are hoping the lessons learned will reach far more.
"Probably we are gonna hold seminars with our community to express in Spanish so they can learn more about these organizations," says Ruiz.