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'Unidos': Waco PD reaching out to Spanish-speaking community members

Posted at 6:31 PM, Mar 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-14 19:31:27-04

WACO, Texas — The Waco Police Department is launching a new Hispanic outreach program on Wednesday night.

The 'Unidos' program consists of Spanish town halls designed to connect Hispanic community members with officers and safety resources.

Neighborhood engagement officer Anita Gomez helped lead the charge to bring the program to Waco.

"The Hispanic population is very unlikely to file a report if they were a victim or a witness to a crime," Gomez said.

She hopes 'Unidos' will help overcome the language barrier, and in turn, fix issues such as law enforcement distrust and unreported crime in Hispanic neighborhoods.

Steve Dye, originally of the Garland Police Department, created the program in 2000 after seeing a gap between law enforcement and Hispanic residents.

"I had the benefit of being fluent in Spanish because my wife is from Mexico and I would encounter a lot of our residents that were just having an ongoing problem understanding the law," Dye said. "I'm proud to say 23-years later, most of the police departments in North Texas are using the program."

'Unidos' is now an initiative in 20 to 30 Texas cities, according to Dye.

Waco will host its 'Unidos' program every three months, beginning Wednesday, March 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the South Waco Community Center at 2815 Speight Avenue.