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February 05, 2005
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Hispanic Community Reaching Out to Tenn. Metro Police Through "El Protector"

News Channel 5 (Nashville, Tenn.)

Many in the Hispanic community are reaching out to Metro Police through a man known as "El Protector." He is an officer who speaks English and Spanish.

His job is to bring information about the police department to Nashville's Hispanic community.

The language barrier can a big problem for people who don't speak English and want to report crimes.

Officer Juan Borges, known as "El Protector" says it's the number one problem and that's why the police department is working to help Spanish speaking people find ways to communicate with police.

NewsChannel 5 followed Officer Borges as he went to a number of South Nashville Hispanic-owned businesses.

The owner of "Tierra Caliente" talked to Officer Borges about the several times he's been robbed and the difficulty of calling police without knowing fluent English.

Borges talked with him about some of the initiatives the department is taking to help improve communication. Borges says, though, that beyond the language barrier there are other issues.

"One of the things we're trying to address with this program is the mistrust of the Hispanic community towards the police department. We can do that by conducting presentations and being out in the community," said Borges.

Throughout South Nashville there are bench boards that advertise the "El Protector" program. They're written in Spanish and translated. The board reads "together we can make a difference".

One of the ways officers can also communicate with people who speak Spanish is with brochures. For instance, there is one they can give out about traffic stops which lists in Spanish what the procedure is and what materials you need to present.

At this time there are six Metro Police officers who speak Spanish, but there are about seven in the Police Academy now. And, the department is working on ways to assist officers who may need translators.

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