Thursday, August 26, 2004

New Spanish classes help officers relate



Natalie Morales, The Enquirer
and The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A group of Louisville police officers is learning the Spanish language as the city's Hispanic population grows rapidly.

On Tuesday, the group of 19 officers, detectives and sergeants sat in their final class of the police department's first Advanced Language Spanish Program.

"After 28 weeks they can communicate completely in another language - that's fascinating," said their instructor, Jose Alfaro. "Some of them are not comfortable speaking yet like the others, but they have their vocabulary."

Such classes are ongoing in Northern Kentucky.

Local officers advance their workplace Spanish in classes at Gateway Community and Technical College in Covington.

The classes offered at Gateway are shorter, only six weeks, but still provide an outlet for professionals - including police officers and firefighters - to practice dialogs and expressions to use on the job.

"If they haven't had Spanish, first of all it is important to raise their comfort level in speaking it," said Phil Accardi, Gateway's Business and Industrial Services workforce development liaison. "I've discovered that once they make that breakthrough, there's no stopping them."

The Covington Fire Department took advantage of the program in the spring to help firefighters increase their ability to interact with Spanish speakers.

"The focus of the classes is not on learning the complete language, but on becoming efficient and confident in using the expressions," Accardi said.

Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties had 4,136 Hispanic residents at the time of the last Census in 2000, more than three times the 1,239 Hispanic residents in the area in during the 1990 Census.

All of the Louisville officers have come a long way from eight months ago, when only a few of the classmates could count to 10 in Spanish, Alfaro said.

Their training will be capped by a trip to Mexico, where they will spend up to five weeks immersed in the culture and language, thanks to an $80,000 federal grant.

The Louisville Metro Office of International and Cultural Affairs estimates there are more than 35,000 Hispanics living in the area. But a survey taken last year showed that only 17 of the 1,200 officers on the police force said they were comfortable speaking the language.

The class, which met three days a week for two hours, was designed for those with no knowledge of the language.

Officers built skills through intensive course work, quizzes, tests and vocabulary drills, said Dr. Fred de Rosset, who helped design the program.




TOP LOCAL HEADLINES
Allen admits to affair with employee
Kmart victim's family baffled by shooting
Smoking ban debate begins
Lawsuit: Public Defender's Office fails
Iraqi girl's open-heart surgery called a success
Pain-control treatment found in need of reform
Middletown Guard unit may be heading home
Gay marriage poll a surprise
Baby starved to death; mother sent to prison
Death sentence upheld by Ohio Supreme Court
Dentists aid victims of domestic violence
T-shirt slogan 'cruel,' W.Va. governor says
Officials link casings to suspect
Kenmore man dies after police scuffle
Food's ready; there's no need to stop driving
Judge extends timber sales ban
Cleves man, 24, dies in single-car crash
Local news briefs

KENTUCKY HEADLINES
Sewer plant a step closer
Owls culprits in cat deaths
Florence Y'all fest on hiatus, but not parade
Free Levee lunch parking begins in Sept.
Jockeys want fees paid for ad patch lawsuits
New Spanish classes help officers relate
State holds hearing on overtime rules
Tobacco buyout forum's focus
Suspect in killing hunting a skunk
Jobless rate declines, but manufacturing weak
Ky. election fraud trial starts
Worker hit in head by 400-pound weight

EDUCATION
Cuts force students to find rides or walk
Charter schools suit reinstated
Lakota support staff gets 35-cent-an-hour raise

NEIGHBORS
Medical expansion starts
A Fest for Tobacco?
W. Chester OKs $1.4M ballfields complex
Butler Co. tries to embarrass its child-support scofflaws
Loveland eases gun law
Nader campaign set back
Warren auditor guilty of DUI

GOOD THINGS HAPPENING
Hawaiian ride helps with AIDS

LIVES REMEMBERED
N.M. Hodapp, district manager
Nellie Smith never let child go hungry