Like many law enforcement agencies across the US, the police department in Avon, a small Rocky Mountains community in Colorado, is engaging in outreach efforts to connect and build trust with immigrant communities. Residents who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino comprise about 40% of Avon’s population. However, many of these residents are afraid of interacting with the police due to a host of factors, including language and cultural barriers, negative perceptions about police, and the concern that encounters with the police might jeopardize their immigration status.
To gain the trust of its large Spanish-speaking immigrant community, the Avon Police Department is staffed with seven Spanish-speaking officers, offers an 8-week course to help the city’s Latino residents become familiar with police procedures, and makes fun TikTok posts in Spanish. Detective Alan Hernandez and other Spanish-speaking officers from Avon’s Police Department hope that their own immigrant backgrounds can help bring them closer to the Latino community, encouraging immigrants to reach out to law enforcement in times of need while developing a greater understanding and trust towards the police.