Riverhead Police Complete Diversity Training

(Photo courtesy of OLA of Eastern Long Island)

To improve interactions between police departments and the Latino community, OLA of Eastern Long Island, a Latino advocacy organization based out of the East End, put together a diversity training program for members of law enforcement. The first department, Southampton Town Police, completed the training last year and now, the Riverhead Police Department has as well, reports Maria Piedrabuena for RiverheadLOCAL.

The course consisted of one weekly session between OLA and about 12-15 Riverhead Town Police members repeated over a 5-week period with different groups. Topics and exercises included using Language Line effectively — a key interpretation and translation service that is accessible in multiple languages 24/7—how to communicate with someone who is displaying fear or insecurity and immigration facts, among others.

Riverhead Police have been using Language Line for about two years, said [Riverhead Police Chief David] Hegermiller. All police patrol cars are equipped with the service and police officers have a cell phone where they can access language line. However, during role play exercises during the training, officers discovered that having the service is not enough, knowing how to use it in specific ways can make all the difference.

For more from Hegermiller on the benefits of the training, as well as why some in the Latino community are apprehensive about approaching police to report crimes or speak as witnesses, go to RiverheadLOCAL. And also find out what local issue of concern prompted the police department to create a subtitled warning video with the help of OLA.

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