St. Anthony Parish will host KCPD’s Spanish Citizen’s Academy, which begins on June 9.

By Elisabeth Slay
Northeast News Editorial Assistant

Members of the community are invited to join the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department (KCPD) for the first ever Spanish Citizen’s Academy, beginning on Saturday June 9, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Anthony Parish (318 Benton Blvd., KCMO).

According to Jason Cooley, KCPD Community Interaction Officer (CIO) for the Chief of Police, the event is specifically tailored for Spanish-speaking and undocumented members of the community.

“We’re doing this as an outreach to educate them about their police department, but also utilize it to keep communication going,” Cooley said. “They are here in our community, so we want to build trust and dialogue.”

Those in attendance will be greeted by Chief of Police Rick Smith and educated on several different functions of the KCPD. The event is a collaboration between community leaders, KCPD, the Mexican Consulate and a host of other partners.

“It has been a slow, methodical process to get to the point we’re at right now with the type of event and engagement,” Cooley said.

The purpose of the event is to make members of the community feel safe and trusted; therefore, KCPD hasn’t requested registration, background checks or anything to cause distrust. They’ve also brought the information right into the community’s back yard.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep the door open, so to speak so, we can just have that dialogue,” Cooley said.

To help build that healthy dialogue, KCPD has enlisted the help of several different Northeast leaders to act as a trust-building bridge. With any luck, KCPD hopes that Spanish-speaking community members can become more comfortable speaking with and approaching their local police department.

“I hope they are more informed about the services our police department provides to help,” said KCPD Officer Chato Villalobos, who will participate in the event.

The Spanish Citizen’s Academy will be a three-part event, continuing on June 16 and June 23.