As Casselberry's Hispanic population grows, cops look to learn Spanish

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CASSELBERRY, Fla. - A recent survey shows one in four people who live in Casselberry is Hispanic, so the Police Department wants more officers to learn Spanish.

The department is now giving officers Spanish lessons for free.

The survey shows the Hispanic population has grown by 10 percent over the past 10 years.

"That's a big issue for us," said Officer Robert Judges. "We're trying to help them, we're trying to get the information we need from them, and it just would be beneficial to be able to speak Spanish."

That's why Judges signed up to learn Spanish.

The department is teaming up with a local church to train officers to be proficient enough in Spanish to hold a conversation.

"It's a bigger number (of Hispanics) than we realized, and once we did realize that, we found we weren't doing our part to reach out to the community," said Chief Bill McNeil.

So far, eight officers have signed up to take the course, and the church is making sure it's easy for them to learn the language for free.

The move is aimed at eliminating the need to wait for a translator at traffic stops.

"It's become more of a need not just to be with the community, but also for safety, so that's why I am taking the class," said Judges.

The one-hour classes will be held once a week until the officers feel they have the training they need.