Norcross police start new program to integrate Spanish-speaking residents

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NORCROSS, Ga. - The Norcross Police Department has a new program to integrate its Spanish-speaking residents and it's likely a first of its kind in Georgia.

The concept isn't new, but the way Norcross' citizen's police academy is taught is. The class is in Spanish.

"Meet the community, get them engaged with the police department so that we can both build trust," Norcross Police Chief Warren Summers told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh.

Summers said that's the goal of the department's first Hispanic Citizens Police Academy.

"Some of the folks aren't citizens, so there's a bit of a disconnect there," Summers said.

But Summers said that doesn't matter. It's up to the federal government to police immigration status.

He's trying to police his community and help residents who are often victimized by violent crime and too afraid to report it.

The Norcross Police Department estimates 40 percent of the city's population is Latino.

"They can't be worried about their immigration status when they deal with Norcross police," Summers said.

Student, Marlon Moncado told Kavanaugh most members of the Hispanic community fear the police. He said the academy taught him they're there to help.

Cielo Zamora told Kavanaugh it's important for Hispanics to know the rights they have.

Moncado said it's important to have a program like this in Georgia, because Georgia is such an important state.

This year's academy had 32 students. It was even bigger than the traditional English-speaking class.

Students graduate Tuesday. The department is already planning next year's academy.