San Jose

Tactical Spanish Taught to San Jose Police Recruits

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The San Jose Police Department is putting its new recruits through a crash course in tactical Spanish.

Veteran San Jose police officers are spending three classes teaching future officers elementary Spanish, allowing them to better communicate with Spanish speakers spread out across the South Bay city.

"Common words and phrases," Lt. Carlos Acosta explained. "As an example, we talk about colors, the year, names, first and last."

For many of the recruits, it might be their first Spanish class since high school, if not ever. And they know their limitations.

"We're not going to be perfect," SJPD recruit Brett Vranich said. "We're not going to have the best grammar, and we're not going to be speaking full sentences."

San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said communication is key on any call and valuable time is lost when a victim or a person stopped by police has to wait for a translator.

"Just because we show up with a badge and a uniform, that doesn't necessarily fix things," he said. "We need to put people at ease."

The tactical Spanish course added another day and a half to the academy. In the last year, the academy increased by a month because of all the new courses cadets are taking to make them better officers.

The hope is to add a Vietnamese course in the future.

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