TERRE HAUTE, Ind (WTHI) - In the 2000 U.S. Census, the Census showed that 47 million, orabout 18% of the U.S. Population, spoke a language other thanEnglish at home. A decade later that number has increased. The mostdramatic shifts are happening in the Deep South and in theMidwest.
Officers from Indiana State University and Terre Haute arelearning to deal with the change by studying in the classroom.
On Friday, four students sat in a Spanish 101 class for policeofficers and dispatchers. The purpose of the class is for them tolearn how to communicate with folks that may not speak English.
"Papel is an easier way to get them to understand what you arewanting. 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 notexpected to be exact on gender specifications when speaking. Theclass is more focused on learning phrases the officers would useout in the field.
"Sometimes we run into the problem where we do not have anyinterpreters available, so we are sort of in a bind trying tocommunicate with them what we want to do or what we need fromthem," Indiana State University police officer Tamara Wattssaid.
According to an article in Police Chief Magazine the coursecould save lives.
In Washington, D.C., a police officer was conducting alate-night traffic stop in a neighborhood with a significantSpanish-speaking population escaped unharmed from an attempt on hislife.
The officer knew enough Spanish to understand when the driver ofthe subject vehicle instructed another occupant in Spanish,“Shoot [the officer] when he gets closer.” The officercalled for backup and ordered the suspects out of the car. When oneof the suspects opened fire with a handgun, the officer wasprepared and shot back. Though the suspects escaped, the officerdid, too”.
The Spanish class is held three days a week and lasts about 12weeks.
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