TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Language barriers or fear often hold back certain groups from reaching out to law enforcement.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office just rolled out a new way to report crimes in both English and Spanish.
Natalia Verdina is the face of a changing community. Working as the bilingual PIO for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, she’s helping strengthen the relationship between HCSO and the growing Hispanic population in the county.
The U.S. Census Bureau now reports Latinos make up 29 percent of the county’s population.
“We want them to know that even though they may not speak English, they are valuable, important, members of our community,” Verdina said.
New social media accounts exclusively in Spanish hope to inform this group and build trust at a time we’re seeing heightened tension between law enforcement and minority communities.
“A lot of time they are victims of incidents, of crimes, and they don’t report these things because they’re afraid or they don’t know how things work here,” Verdina said.
Just days ago, HCSO rolled out a new online crime reporting tool in English and Spanish to create another avenue for people to contact the sheriff’s office. You can report crimes ranging from identity theft to price gouging and immigration schemes.
“We have a Hispanic liaison completely dedicated to all of those reports we’re receiving in Spanish,” said Verdina, “And we’ve got the resources to address those.”
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