Bilingual officers help bridge the language barrier

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – When police officers get called to a scene, sometimes it can be pretty chaotic.

One obstacle officers sometimes have to hurdle is a language barrier between themselves and those they come in contact with.

Which is why the Wichita Police Department says having bilingual officers is a huge benefit.

The most recent numbers show WPD has 24 Spanish-speaking officers.

They also have three officers who can speak Vietnamese, as well as, one officer who can speak Arabic, one who speaks Laotian and even one officer who specializes in sign language.

Officer Jorge Avendaño has been patrolling the streets of Wichita for 11 years.

Ofc. Avendaño is originally from Texas and is bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish.

“It helps me out immensely because I deal with the Hispanic community a lot, so it’s easy for me to not have to call somebody out,” said Ofc. Avendaño.

Ofc. Avendaño says he regularly gets a call for someone needing an officer who can speak Spanish.

“Probably happens at least on a daily basis, whether it’s me responding to a call in Spanish,” said Ofc. Avendaño.

Today, it was no different.

KSN followed Ofc. Avendaño as he caught up with one person he regularly talks to on his beat, as well as, a call at the WPD Patrol North Bureau.

“You definitely build a little more of a connection with that person, they usually feel a little more comfortable talking to me,” said Ofc. Avendaño.

Ofc. Paul Cruz, one of the WPD Community Liaision officers says he’s in constant contact with the bilingual officers.

He says they provide a huge help.

“You get on scene, and sometimes scenes can get pretty chaotic, so when you have a language barrier, it helps to have an officer to speak the language,” says Ofc. Cruz.

It’s something Ofc. Avendaño agrees with.

“It just builds all those bridges and connecting with our community,” said Ofc. Avendaño.

Ofc. Avendaño also mentioned that at least once a week, he gets called to help another agency in need of a Spanish-speaking officer.

He says the calls range from the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, to agencies outside the city, such as the Derby and Newton Police Departments.


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