Updated: Friday, 11 Jun 2010, 6:27 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 11 Jun 2010, 6:27 PM EDT
TERRE HAUTE, Ind (WTHI) - In the 2000 U.S. Census, the Census showed that 47 million, or about 18% of the U.S. Population, spoke a language other than English at home. A decade later that number has increased. The most dramatic shifts are happening in the Deep South and in the Midwest.
Officers from Indiana State University and Terre Haute are learning to deal with the change by studying in the classroom.
On Friday, four students sat in a Spanish 101 class for police officers and dispatchers. The purpose of the class is for them to learn how to communicate with folks that may not speak English.
"Papel is an easier way to get them to understand what you are wanting. If you say papers that kind of encompass everything," Indiana State University language professor Ortega said.
The students don’t have to study many books and are not expected to be exact on gender specifications when speaking. The class is more focused on learning phrases the officers would use out in the field.
"Sometimes we run into the problem where we do not have any interpreters available, so we are sort of in a bind trying to communicate with them what we want to do or what we need from them," Indiana State University police officer Tamara Watts said.
According to an article in Police Chief Magazine the course could save lives.
In Washington, D.C., a police officer was conducting a late-night traffic stop in a neighborhood with a significant Spanish-speaking population escaped unharmed from an attempt on his life.
The officer knew enough Spanish to understand when the driver of the subject vehicle instructed another occupant in Spanish, “Shoot [the officer] when he gets closer.” The officer called for backup and ordered the suspects out of the car. When one of the suspects opened fire with a handgun, the officer was prepared and shot back. Though the suspects escaped, the officer did, too”.
The Spanish class is held three days a week and lasts about 12 weeks.
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