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Chattanooga Police reaching out to Hispanic community

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Most recent numbers from the US Census show the Hispanic population in Chattanooga has grown 5.5%.

That's almost a full percentage point more than the Hispanic population in Tennessee as a whole. Which is why Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher wants his officers to be ready and able to serve our communities better regardless of culture.

“Without the tools, you're pretty much lost unless there's another officer there that speaks it fluently,” Ayrel Novak said.

Officers like Novak strive to communicate in Latino communities.

“They're saying everything so quickly and you're trying to get basic information so you can tell other officers suspect information,” she added.

Novak is one of seven officers taking a 12 week course in Spanish to be able to communicate better with the people in their communities.

Chief Fletcher believes the skills will help when seconds matter the most.

“Everybody deserves that dignity and that respect and that service and we are committed to being able to communicate with all of our community members,” he said.

Novak says college courses in Spanish have helped her develop a good base but classes like this one have a focus for law enforcement.

“It's one thing to get it at a traffic stop, it's another to get it from a victim. So when you can't help them, it's frustrating,” she said.

And give officers another tool to better serve the Chattanooga community.

Chief Fletcher says officers are taught some Spanish when they are going through the Police Academy, but these classes help those skills grow.

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