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The value of speaking Spanish

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  • The value of speaking Spanish

    Ok, I'm a 24 year old Caucasian male. I will graduate college in August with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Spanish. I will be going to the academy in October. I am fairly proficient in Spanish now, but I will be spending 5 weeks in Mexico this summer doing an intensive Spanish/LE study abroad program. I hope to be nearly fluent by the time I return. I have no arrests and I've had 1 speeding ticket. What I would like to know is:

    1. How desirable is it to have a white, Spanish speaking officer in a department?

    2. Will I have a significant advantage of being hired over someone else with similar credentials minus the second language?

    I realize that question number 2 does not take into consideration performance in the academy or oral interviews.

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time.

  • #2
    It is always a bonus to be able to speak a second language. I don't know how much of an advantage it will give you if any in your neck of the woods but it will certainly be looked at.

    What kind of a Hispanic population do you have in Tennessee?

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    • #3
      Depends on the area of TN. I want work in middle TN. I can think of at least 3 cities in middle TN that have a HIGH population of hispanics.

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      • #4
        Here in Southeastern NC, that is a rare and invaluable attribute to find in applicants. With the extremely high hispanic population (which is growing daily), we are at a constant disadvantage due to the fact that hispanic suspects can communicate between themselves without officers having any clue about what they're talking about.

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        • #5
          If two applicants are exactly the same save the language ability of course it would be an advantage. What with the high number of open postions it doesn't really matter. If you can pass all the steps you both will be hired.

          Spanish itself is an advantage obviouls ybecause it makes it easier to communicte. It's also nice when you are white because the spanish speakers will assume you don't speak it and will often talk right in front of you among themselves and release info that will be helpful to you.

          The other side of the coin is that we shouldn't be catering to the latin communities by provided spanish. If we happen to speak it great. Don't demand it.

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          • #6
            I agree that we shouldn't cater to the latin americans by having to learn spanish. I chose spanish as a minor just because I thought it would make me more a versatile officer. In a situation where I come into contact with a hispanic, I would most likely use english first. If they couldn't communicate that way, I would go to spanish. I can certainly see the advantage of not looking the part and having suspects say something to each other thinking that I couldn't understand them.

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            • #7
              Some departements pay their Spanish speaking officers more because it is a special skill. Whether you get paid more or not, the ability to speak Spanish is a big plus.

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              • #8
                Around here it would be an advantage. You would still need to have a clean background. Up to $4000 incentive bonus yearly depending on proficiency.
                John 3:16

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                • #9
                  So the overall census is that it depends on the CITY/DEPARTMENT?

                  I'm a Spanish speaking applicant in California and I frankly don't expect anything for my skill since well, in California everyone (I use the worse loosely) speaks the language.

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                  • #10
                    Most California agencies pay a bonus for being fluent in Spanish. I assume most are like my agency, where you have to pass an exam and be certified by the agency as being fluent, since your translations will be relied on for court.
                    Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

                    I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

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                    • #11
                      I speak a moderate level of spanish and find it very helpful. Our fluent people, if the choose, can sign up to be official dept translators. They get paid more but they are obligated to respond to requests from other officers asking for a translator. They can even be paged out off-duty for significant incidents (on overtime of course).

                      Another advantage can come later in your career if you choose to tryout for specality units like narcotics or maybe a detective slot. The language skill could distinguish you from your fellow officers.
                      Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.

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                      • #12
                        Speaking any second language is a plus in law enforcement, for getting the job, and doing the job.

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