In the fourth-largest city in the United States, students at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) are helping Houston Police Department officers diminish language barriers they encounter on duty.
The UHD students, criminal justice majors in the College of Public Service, are serving as members of Communicators on Patrol, an initiative launched by the HPD. Citizens who speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and other languages also can participate in the program.
“There are a number of bilingual HPD officers, but in a city this size, there’s certainly not enough,” said Beth Gilmore, coordinator of the Criminal Justice Internship and Career Services Program at UHD. “Our students and the other Communicators on Patrol will help fill that void and build trust with officers.”
The students working with the initiative will earn internship credit through the Criminal Justice Internship, as well as gain hands-on training in law enforcement working with HPD radios, practicing real-life scenarios and learning department policies.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2017, Houston had an estimated population of more than 2,3 million, and the racial makeup was 44.3 percent non-White Hispanic or Latino, 25.1 percent non-Hispanic White, 22.8 percent Black or African-American, 6.7 percent Asian, .4 percent Native American and the rest other.