CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories



By Cynthia M. Jeffries

Daily Journal

In 15 weeks, Tupelo Police Detective Bart Aguirre will have learned how to say “Put your hands up” in Spanish if he ever has to during an arrest.

By that time, fellow Tupelo officer Judy Fraiser, Verona officer Nickola Wright and probation officer Cal Walls will also have learned to hablar un poco de espa–ol.

The four are taking part in a pilot program being offered at Itawamba Community College called “Survival Spanish for Law Enforcement.”

“They won’t be able to sit down and carry on an entire conversation in Spanish, but they will learn enough to get by,” said ICC Spanish instructor Patricia Bishop, who is overseeing the class.

The class is designed to help officers during arrest procedures and traffic stops. For an hour and a half, two nights a week, the officers will hookup with other law enforcement officers around the state to learn basic command phrases like “Put your hands behind your back” and “Stop.” Along the way, the officers will also pick up a small dose of information about Latin culture and lifestyle.

But the class can’t teach everything. Spanish-speaking people on the verge of being arrested will still have to read their Miranda rights from a card themselves.

Officers in the class say the Spanish-speaking population in Northeast Mississippi is growing. During the last few years, police and sheriff’s deputies in Tupelo, Pontotoc, Monroe County and other areas throughout Northeast Mississippi have had to detain illegal aliens, many of whom spoke only Spanish, until they could be deported. The survival class can help in such situations, Bishop said.

The instructor of the class is actually at the Copiah-Lincoln Community College. The class at ICC is able to talk to her and see her through a television and computer linkup. The class is being taught at several other junior colleges throughout the state.

So far, the four officers are the only ones in the area to sign up for the course at the Fulton branch. Wednesday is the deadline for enrolling. The cost is $160, which does not include the $25 textbook. Officers can elect to take the course for a college credit or audit it. Either way, each participant will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the semester.

Anyone interested in the course should call Itawamba Community College at 862-3101.

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