TPD reaches out to Hispanic community with Cafe con la Policia

By Juan Cisneros, WIBW
Original article HERE

The Topeka Police Department’s Coffee with a Cop outreach program took a little twist Thursday night.

The department gathered at Tacos El Sol for Cafe con la Policia, a way for them to focus on connecting with Topeka’s Hispanic community.

Victor Hercules was among those welcoming Topeka police officers to his neighborhood.

He said with a growing Latino population, seeing more Latino officers on the streets could help change how people view them.

“A lot of stigma gets left behind once they know and identify that the police department has been open to multi-cultures,” Hercules said. “Having Hispanic officers in their work force, it can bring some cultural awareness to the other officers.”

Police Chief Bill Cochran said Cafe con la Policia is a way for the department to build trust the Hispanic community.

“This community has a reluctancy to want to talk to police officers when they become victims of crimes for a variety of reasons,” Cochran said. “Really, this is just to reinstall that trust or put that trust back in between us and the community.”

Having bilingual officers can also help break down communication barriers between Spanish-speaking residents and the police.

“We start an academy May 20 and in that academy we have three bilingual officers in there,” Cochran said. “It’s real important because if somebody can speak their language and be on the same ground level as they are, then that communication flows a lot better.”

“It takes a village to raise a child and we’re building community,” Hercules said. “We need to do it all together.”

The Topeka Police Department hosts Coffee with a Cop at several different locations throughout the year.