JANESVILLE, Wis. - A Janesville police officer is teaching a Spanish course specially designed for other police officers.
A Spanish class for police officers isn't anything new, but a Janesville officer is developing his own approach to teaching the language. Officer Chad Sullivan's course is aimed at connecting law enforcement with the Latino community, and officers around the state and the country are turning to his lesson plans.
Philip Castillo, a Watertown police officer, said he is used to asking questions like, "Any reason for the speed today?" But Castillo said he noticed that on more than a few traffic stops, law enforcement often gets lost in translation.
"Names, how are you doing, that's easy," said Castillo. "But when you get into legalities and certain terms, if you don't know them, it's hard to talk to people."
"We've all been in that scenario," said Sullivan, who recognized the same problem. "You keep talking, you know a couple words in Spanish. My guess would be there's not one officer across the United States that hasn't been in that uncomfortable traffic stop with a Latino where you can't communicate."17035344
Combining his fluency in Spanish with his police background, Sullivan developed Street Cop Spanish, a language-learning system geared around words and phrases used by law enforcement.
"It breaks down this barrier that exists between law enforcement and the Latino community," said Sullivan. "And once you start speaking their language, you could see it. The walls come down; they're more comfortable with us."
It's why officers around the state are turning to Sullivan to help them serve and protect in more than one language.
"In local law enforcement, it's to serve everybody that's in our community, and Latinos are in our community," Sullivan said.
Sullivan has given seminars around the state, even teaching Spanish to officers as far as New York. For more information on Street Cop Spanish, go to streetcopspanish.com.