Tuesday, February 17, 2015

HAPCOA Submits Testimony to Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing

The Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association (HAPCOA) was invited to provide testimony to the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing (Task Force).  This time HAPCOA provided testimony in support of the fourth public listening session on the topic of Community Policing and Crime Prevention.

The Task Force, established by an executive order signed by President Barack Obama on December 18, 2014, is charged with identifying ways to strengthen public trust and foster strong relationships between local law enforcement and the communities that they protect while also promoting effective crime reduction.  HAPCOA will also address these timely issues at its 42nd Annual National Law Enforcement Training Symposium in San Antonio, TX in November 2015.

The Community Policing and Crime Prevention listening session was held in Phoenix, AZ on Friday, February 13, 2015 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Here is the testimony submitted for publication by HAPCOA National President Don Tijernia:
February 13, 2015
The Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association (HAPCOA) in support of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing provides the following testimony at its fourth public listening session on the topic of Community Policing and Crime Reduction.
Unfortunately, we were unable to appear in person to deliver this testimony before the Task Force session held in Phoenix, AZ on Friday, February 13, 2015.
HAPCOA is a non-profit membership organization established in 1973, and is today the oldest and largest association in the U.S. of Hispanic American command officers from law enforcement and criminal justice agencies at the municipal, county, state and federal levels.  Our membership represents law enforcement agencies from across the United States and Puerto Rico, many of whom are active in local chapters. HAPCOA is a national organization with a local presence.
The mission of HAPCOA is to “empower the future of law enforcement” by assisting law enforcement, criminal justice and community organizations nationwide in their efforts to recruit, train and promote qualified Hispanic American men and women committed to a career in the criminal justice arena and to communities in which they serve and protect.  Additionally, HAPCOA serves to assist in the promotion and development of Hispanics in law enforcement and to serve as an advocate for Hispanic law enforcement issues.
The changing demographics of the 21st Century within the United States brings to the forefront the need for the Task Force to focus on building community trust, constitutional policing, the reengineering of community policing, the building of effective crime reduction and deployment strategies, improved organizational structure, the building of partnerships, tactics and in respect to further research on best practices as pertains to the emerging Hispanic community – nationwide.
HAPCOA and DOJ, National Institute of Justice (NIJ) joined forces in 2002, to produce a video designed to foster closer relationships, trust and a spirit of sharing in the common goals of crime prevention and community safety between the Police and the Community.  This video and accompanying document was entitled:  Community Oriented Policing for the Hispanic Community (“Policia Orientado a la Comunidad”)  (https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/194910.pdf)
HAPCOA recommends that we reorganize as a team (Task Force) and now produce an updated film that we can share with all law enforcement agencies and the communities that they serve.  This new product will be produced in partnership with HAPCOA, members of the community, area law enforcement and funded by either COPS and/or NIJ.
HAPCOA is prepared to provide a copy of the video and accompanying brochure (in both English and Spanish) to all who attend its 2015 National Law Enforcement Training Symposium (November 2015).
The production of this product represents a reengineering of community policing, and an inclusion of community partnerships, as it also redefines the community as one that now includes an emerging Hispanic population (where before one might not have existed in the past), a community that is bilingual/bicultural, and younger.  In doing so, we demonstrate law enforcements desire to build, regain, establish, and maintain the public trust.
HAPCOA recommends that 21st Century Policing must embrace and include Hispanic Officers in command roles if indeed they intend on accomplishing a structure that understands and represents the community that it serves.
Recruitment of a qualified diverse law enforcement agency is now a given.  Departments in communities with historically large Hispanic communities continue to actively recruit, train and include into their roll calls an increasing number of Hispanic Officers.  The next step is to further train, mentor and promote qualified Hispanics into command level positions in all agencies, municipal, county, state and Federal Agencies.
The successful 21st Century Policing organizational structure will be able to proudly demonstrate a command structure that also reflects the community it serves.
HAPCOA recommends that best practices must also include the requirement of Spanish speaking officers and their value as officers that maintain the public trust, improve police reporting, and improve crime prevention and community safety.
HAPCOA also recommends the need to evaluate tactical operations that would include Spanish language training and cultural sensitivity classes that would enhance operational success and ensure the safety of tactical officers.
HAPCOA has for over 40 years prepared its members to take the lead and represent the future of law enforcement in the communities that we serve.  The community that we serve in the 21st Century will now include the entire United States. 
Enhancing law enforcements abilities to engage the emerging Hispanic community, as partners in crime prevention and community safety will build public trust.  Building public trust also helps ensure officers safety.
Thank you,
Don Tijerina
Don Tijerina
Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association
PO Box 29626
Washington, DC 20017