SPRINGDALE, AR (KNWA) – With two deadly gang-related shootings in Springdale in recent weeks, the city’s police force is searching for ways to fight back.
The department is looking to hire more Latino officers, in hopes of reaching the neighborhoods where the violence is happening.
The Springdale Police Department has nearly 140 officers. Fourteen are Latino. That’s 10 percent of the force. Lt. Derek Hudson says Springdale is one of the most diverse police forces in Northwest Arkansas.
So, we placed calls to departments in surrounding cities to compare:
- Rogers, 94 officers, 12 are Latino (13 percent)
- Fayetteville, 120 officers, 4 Latino (3 percent)
- Bentonville, 67 officers, 3 Latino (4 percent)
- Siloam Springs, 34 officers, 2 Latino (6 percent)
Springdale officers say they’re proud of the progress and hope to build more diversity on the force.
“Whether it’s Spanish radio, we did some articles recently in a Spanish newspaper here locally and obviously through social media and a variety of other ways we can reach out to all of our community,” said Lt. Hudson, public information officer for the Springdale Police Department.
Hudson says recent gang activity in the city highlights why it’s important to have officers interacting with the Latino community.
“If you go out in the community and talk to them, they’re gonna want to see diverse teams of officers patrolling their streets,” Hudson said. “So, to have Hispanic officers that speak the language helps us tremendously in those neighborhoods to be able to sort out issues but also, it helps gain information that we otherwise may not be able to get.”
Police hope seeing more Latino officers on the streets will show the community they can change Springdale for the better, together.
“That the individuals within these communities see that as an option and something they can do as a career path,” Hudson said.