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Twenty Dallas police officers added language enforcement to their duties

LatinaLista — When news filtered out last week from Dallas, Texas that a rookie police officer had ticketed a woman for not being able to speak English, most people rolled their eyes and thought this was just a case of an overzealous recruit.
Come to find out there are about 20 overzealous officers — and they’re not new recruits.
It’s been discovered that since 2007, officers from five different patrol divisions, have issued tickets to 38 Latino drivers for not speaking English.
The thing is, the woman whom the rookie targeted, could speak limited English. I would bet that the other people stopped could also speak limited English but combine a lack of proficiency with nervousness for being stopped by the police — and we’re not talking undocumented here — then anyone with limited proficiency would forget everything they knew in their new language.
In essence, these officers took it upon themselves to be the “Language Police.” The Dallas Police Dept. is dismissing all the tickets, reimbursing those people who have paid the $204 fine and investigating the officers who issued the tickets and those who signed off on them.
Yet, a much more troubling question remains — What exists within the Dallas Police dept. that a rookie and veterans would think that ticketing Spanish-speaking drivers is not just legal, but an accepted practice?

The Dallas Police Dept. doesn’t have a good track record of gaining the public trust in the Latino community.
It was members of the Dallas Police in 2002 who framed and scapegoated innocent Latinos in what has become known as the “Sheetrock Scandal.”
In that instance, 18 bogus cases were created by Dallas Police Drug and Narcotics officers against all Hispanic defendants, claiming that the Latinos were involved in the distribution of cocaine. It wasn’t cocaine – it was ground up sheetrock packaged to look like cocaine.
Several Latinos wrongfully accused of being cocaine distributors spent months in jail, lost their jobs and businesses, and some, even their families.
Because some Dallas Police officers didn’t just think Latinos were easy prey, but that they were there to be abused and terrorized at their whim.
One would have thought the lessons learned in 2002 would have stuck with this dept. but some officers seem more intent enforcing their own brand of justice against Latinos, whether or not it’s legal.
Somehow, it gives new meaning to the so-called “silent code of brotherhood” we always hear about among the ranks of the police.
There is still discussion as what to do to the officers and those who signed off on the tickets — suspend them? Fire them? Make them attend sensitivity training?
Unfortunately, none of that will do any good until there is a thorough and honest investigation — not into who is writing the tickets — but why there exists the mentality that it’s ok to do it and nobody says anything to the contrary when they find out.
This problem is much deeper than just writing tickets. Because there was only a few officers, compared to the overall number in the force, who committed this act, it makes for a curious case as to why these particular individuals did it?
Hard questions must be asked.
Do they have an aversion to Latinos? Do they feel superior to Latinos that they don’t feel they should be held accountable for mistreatment? Are they racist?
Whatever the source of the problem, it must be discovered, discussed and eradicated — before the reason for issuing such a ticket manifests itself into another form of targeting Latinos.
Cited for not speaking English

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  • maryelizabeth
    October 27, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    This girl I knew actually told me she was pulled over like this by a police officer for a random check and she was really scared that he would do something to her because she was undocumented but the cop let her go while flirting with her. Shortly afterwords she found this cop hunting her down. He found her at the McDonalds she worked at and tricked her friend into giving him her phone number because he said he needed it for law enforcement purposes. This is when he started to stalk her for 1 entire year. She did not know what to do. He called her all the time and followed her and demanded that she date him amongst other perverted gestures. She didn’t know what to do because she was undocumented. She was frightened out of her mind. I was beside myself when she told me this story. If he had ever pulled that on a US citizen?? Well you all know where he would be. This story is all hearsay but I did see the phone numbers logged on her cell phone and I see no reason why she would make it up. This would be a case of sexual harrasement if only this woman could have come forward and file charges.

  • David O. Garcia
    October 28, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    So I gather the chotas were gabachos? How is the kooky right wing treating this?

  • laura
    October 30, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    This is unbelievable. It is a civil rights violation. I recommend for these policemen to be transferred to the United States Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, where Spanish is the official language. Would they be surprised to get a citation for not knowing Spanish?
    And very very sadly, the story Maryelizabeth tells is not unique at all.
    This is what happens when many people have no rights. It gives the predators a chance to act on their worst impulses.
    And this is why the 287G programs must be ended, now.

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