OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — According to the 2020 U.S. Census data, nearly 55-percent of Osceola County’s population identifies as Hispanic.
In 2010, that figure was just over 40-percent, indicating a significant surge over the last 10 years.
The county even elected its first ever Hispanic Sheriff last year in Marcos Lopez.
“Being elected the first Puerto Rican Hispanic Sheriff in the state...it’s just an awesome accomplishment,” Lopez said.
Lopez says the title comes with a lot of pride, but also plenty of pressure to bridge the gaps between the services offered by the sheriff’s office and a booming Hispanic community, starting with 9-1-1 dispatchers.
“We would notice that we were receiving almost a little over 900 calls a month sometimes for Spanish speaking assistance,” Lopez said.
In response, Lopez says they’re adding four on-call translators and Spanish speaking call takers to get people immediate assistance, rather than having to transfer them to a third-party provider for that help.
Lopez says the goal is to save time in what could be an emergency situation.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Lopez said. “Making the difference and being able to communicate effectively with the minority Latino community.”
Sheriff Lopez’ outreach to the Hispanic community isn’t stopping there either. By popular demand, they’ll also start posting to social media in Spanish.
“Facebook en Espanol is important because a lot of people, every time I go places where I post something in the regular facebook, they’re like, we don’t understand,” Lopez said.
A spanish facebook page offers additional access to important information like community services and event details.
The new page, “Oficina Del Alguacil Del Condado Osceola,” is already active.
“You see such a need in the community, and that you actually are in a position where you can make a difference,” Sheriff Lopez said. “That’s the reason why I decided to run, and we got where we are today.”
The sheriff says they’re currently working on even more initiatives to help further meet those needs.
Cox Media Group