KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Establishing long-lasting relationships between the Hispanic community and the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department was the goal of the first-ever Citizens Police Academy for the Hispanic community.
The event was held inside a Catholic church in the northeast neighborhood, an area with a prominent Hispanic population.
“I want to them to see Hispanic officers, 'Oh, I know Ofc. Gordillo, he’s super cool — we can talk to him," said KCPD Ofc. Edwin Gordillo, who coordinated the academy.
Gordillo says he has always wanted to host the academy to bridge the gap between police and the Hispanic community to push through stereotypes.
"Say you're a first generation in the United States, your parents came from another country, there's corruption in those other countries, and if that's the only perception you have of a police officer, that's probably why they don't want to talk to us," Gordillo said.
More than 30 people took part in the academy, with many applauding KCPD for having honest conversations with them in Spanish.
"It was cool because you don't usually see this out in the community, you don't usually hear officers speaking Spanish," said Litzy Ferman, who lives in KC.
The academy also featured hands-on exercises and simulations mimicking real-life scenarios officers face, which gave people an idea of what it's like to wear the badge.
"I think us Latinos are completely connected with the police," said attendee Melvin Fernandez. "Now we can understand why they do things and how they do things because they were very specific with teaching us why they are and who they are."
Each attendee was given a certificate of completion. Plans are in the works for the event to take place bi-annually.
“I loved the fact that now the community can see behind a uniform and a vest there is a heart, because officers have a huge heart," Fernandez said.