NewsLocal News


KCPD suspects fear behind no-shows at Spanish Citizenship Academy

Posted at 8:34 PM, Jun 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-19 23:23:55-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Police Department has indefinitely suspended its first Spanish Citizenship Academy after no one showed up.

One reason KCPD suspects for the lack of attendance — fear among the city's Hispanic population.

"There's a lot of outside influences at play that quite honestly we don't have any control over," said KCPD Officer Jason Cooley.

KCPD had planned a series of presentations over the course of three Saturdays at St. Anthony's Church in the Northeast.

Police Chief Rick Smith was scheduled to speak as were dispatchers, community interaction officers and others within the department.

"This was an opportunity for us to say, 'We are here, we are with you. You are part of our community. You have the right to be protected by us,'" said KCPD officer Chato Villalobos.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Villalobos has made an effort to work with the city's Spanish-speaking population. He said finding a way to bridge the divide between the police department and the Hispanic community is personal.

"I remember being scared and then there was this guy, a police officer, who came to the baseball park and saw us playing in the dark and turned on the lights for us. I was never scared of a cop after that," he said, wiping away a tear.

Although the academy has been paused indefinitely, the department is continuing to look for ways to reach out a build a stronger trust with the community.

"Relationships, trust, engagement, accessibility, reduction of crime. That was the long-term goal of this and we are going to keep plugging away with this," said Cooley.