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Cops to make Latino inroads

Community academy could lead to a similar effort with Armenians, officials say.

December 20, 2011|By Maria Hsin, maria.hsin@latimes.com

Burbank Police will host its first Spanish-language community academy next year. If it is successful, an academy in Armenian could follow.

Police said they plan to reach to out to Spanish speakers to help them understand U.S. laws. They also hope to familiarize people with the services police offer.

Police officials feel the need for additional outreach to the city’s Latino community, according to Burbank Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn, who was involved in one of the first community academies in 2000. “They need to understand what we do so when an incident occurs, they have a better understanding of why law enforcement does what it does,” he said.

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Community academies usually take place twice a year for 13 weeks, and an academy in English, and also in Spanish, will start in mid- to late February.

Ryburn noted volunteers at the department usually come through the community academies and he welcomed more participants.

“We will have a group of individuals, Spanish-speaking individuals in the community, that we in the police department can rely on, and when the need arises, to translate for us out in the community.”

Classes in Armenian are another area police want to explore.

“A more informed Armenian population, and a more informed community — whether Hispanic, Filipino or Armenian — will absolutely help in communication between the police department and community,” Ryburn said.

Burbank Police Officer Cindy Guillen, who will be involved in the Spanish academy, said, “We have a large Spanish-speaking community and we’ve never been able to reach out to them.”

Guillen said essentially the same information would be presented in Spanish as in the established English-language academy.

“If that is successful, maybe we’ll launch one in Armenian for the same reason — they’re a huge part out or community in Burbank and we need to branch out to them,” Guillen said.

Press releases were sent to the Spanish-language media and information was sent to the Burbank Adult School, Burbank Housing Corporation and neighborhood watch block captains, among other community groups.

Lake Alameda neighborhood watch block captain Staci Armao said the city provided applications for the upcoming academy at the recent ribbon-cutting for the Lake Alameda Greenway Project.

“I think it’s incredibly important for law enforcement to reach out to the Spanish-speaking community in Burbank,” Armao, who is also the executive director of Hollywood Police Activities League, said in an email. “Spanish speakers are an integral part of our community and everyone in the community serves as the eyes and ears for the police department. Cementing a bond between law enforcement and residents goes a long way in creating safer neighborhoods.”

Applications are available at the police department and are due by Jan. 15. The community academies are tentatively scheduled to begin in mid to late February. For more information, call Officer Cindy Guillen at (818) 238-3235.

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