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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Hispanic Center to Launch Interpretation for Police

Hispanic Center of Western Michigan Logo

Encounters between police and area residents who only speak Spanish could get a lot smoother with a new trial program.

Starting March 01, the Hispanic Center of West Michigan is launching a 24/7 interpretation service for police who encounter Spanish-only speakers on the job. Officers will dial a number and get professional interpreters to assist both parties.

“You know, I’ll give you an example, if we’re at a domestic and a husband and wife are fighting, once it’s stabilized and once we kind of get a feel for what’s happening and make sure everybody is safe, that’s when we would make that phone call.”

That’s Captain Kip Snyder with Wyoming Police Department. He says his department sees this as a way to improve relations with the Hispanic community. For its part, The Hispanic Center, is using this free, 3-month trial, to study the program’s long-term viability.

“We’re providing the service over the phone because we want to get those real numbers of how much interactions are happening without the assistance of an interpreter.”

That’s Sara Proano, Director of Language Services at the Hispanic Center. She says their main challenge is recruiting people willing to become professional interpreters.

“We’re going to have our interpreter’s training on the 27th of this month and it’s going to be on Saturdays, from 8:00 in the morning until 12:00 noon.”

Proano says the center has scholarships for people who speak rare Latin American languages like Mum, or Quiche. Those interested can call the Hispanic Center at (616) 742 0194.

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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