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 In The News
  Posted on: Monday, July 16, 2012
South Carolina Police Liaison Team Makes a Difference in Hispanic Areas
ROCK HILL Drunks on porches and prostitutes at street corners crowded the Heather Heights apartment complex on Celanese Road when a teenaged Luz Contreras moved to Rock Hill from Las Cruces, N.M. in 2005. A year later, someone stole her car. "There was a lot" going on, said Contreras, 23. "Now, it's very calm." That calm puts her at ease when her 5-year-old daughter and 9-year-old brother play outside. The credit, she says, goes to a group of Rock Hill police officers tasked with breaking down the language barrier between the police department and Hispanic victims and suspects. The Latino Liaison Team - six police officers with roots in Colombia, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Brazil - began canvassing and holding meetings in predominantly Hispanic Rock Hill neighborhoods last year, said Officer Jonathan Moreno, a member of the team. The meetings, which held in Spanish, give residents an opportunity to "learn the ways of Rock Hill and to talk and feel more comfortable," Moreno said. Reisdents also get up-to-date crime statistics on their area, Moreno said. Latino immigrants who may have come from countries riddled with police corruption and a different frequency of crime may have a "higher tolerance to violence," Moreno said. The team aims to help them realize "you don't have to tolerate" certain crimes or criminals.
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