Hispanic Academy breaks down cultural barriers - 8 News NOW

Hispanic Academy breaks down cultural barriers

Hispanic Academy breaks down cultural barriers

Posted: Updated:

LAS VEGAS -- Domestic violence is one of the most under-reported crimes, especially among Latinos, police say.

Once a week for the last three months, Latino students have learned about their rights, regardless of their legal status in the U.S. The students attended the Hispanic Citizens Academy held by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Fifty people got a chance to take part in the academy. Each session focused on a different issue facing the Hispanic community. Some of the students at the academy have dealt with corrupt authorities in their home countries, others have entered the U.S. illegally and fear deportation.

Students sit quietly as they listen to a domestic violence 9-1-1 call. The woman, talking with the operator, was fatally stabbed by her husband.

“We wanted to make it impactful because unfortunately, within the Hispanic community, domestic violence does go on and most of the time it goes unreported," said Officer David Cienega, who works with the students at the Hispanic Citizens Academy.

The students learn about the laws that protect victims, regardless of their immigration status. They also learn how to report an anonymous tip and reach out for help.

“Even though they are being victimized, they're afraid to call because they might be here undocumented and of course that's not an issue with us. If it's a victim we're going to go help that victim," Cienega said.

Raquel Gandola is one of 50 students taking part in the Hispanic Citizens Academy. She’s a domestic violence survivor.

“My ex husband tried to kill me inside of my own restaurant by putting a knife to my neck,” she said through an interpreter.

The violent attacks happened in her home country of Argentina. She migrated north 12 years ago to get away from her husband after police refused to help her.

“When I used to file a report with police, officers would ask me what I had done for my husband to treat me that way.”

Despite her experience with law enforcement in Argentina, Gandola believes police in this country are here to help people like her.

She's attending the classes to learn more about what are her rights under the law as an undocumented immigrant.

“People are scared of police, but we shouldn't be scared,” she said.

Gandola's classmate is also a domestic violence survivor. While she tried to get help, he did not feel comfortable calling police.

“At the beginning, maybe because of the education I had in Mexico, I didn't have confidence in police," Miguel Garcia said.

He migrated from his home country 14 years ago and while he escaped corruption there, he endured abuse at the hands of his girlfriend in the U.S. He wishes he had learned about the academy sooner.

“We can reach out for help and overall try to prevent domestic violence before it reaches an extreme,” Garcia said.

He says he will pass on what he has learned in the academy to others in his community which is the goal of the academy.

Some graduates of the academy stay active with the Metro Police. Gandola is working side by side with the captain of the Northeast Area Command to develop Latino-oriented programs in the community.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KLAS. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.