Police, Hispanic relations strained in Mesa - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Police, Hispanic relations strained in Mesa

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Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2004 9:43 am | Updated: 4:28 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The Mesa Police Department needs to improve the way it relates to Hispanics, many of about 25 residents said Tuesday to a committee studying whether the city should create a citizen’s police review board.

It was the first public forum set up by Mesa’s Ad Hoc Committee to Study Police Oversight. Those who attended were split into five tables, where moderators asked questions from how the police relate to citizens, to what top issues the committee needs to address.

Jesus Hernandez, vice president of the Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens, sat at a Spanishspeaking table.

"It’s important that minorities have an input in the process in regards to public safety," he said.

He said those at his table felt Mesa police need to improve the way they relate to Hispanics. They suggested that police could reach out to youth more, and that a Spanish information line be established for Spanish speakers who want to file complaints or get more information on police and the community.

Hernandez also said the committee should take these public forums to the community to get clearer input from blacks, American Indians and Hispanics.

Vice Mayor Dennis Kavanaugh, chairman of the committee, said he expects more forums will be set up as a result of the input.

"You have to think smaller and go to the neighborhoods or go to the community," he said.

He said the additional forums will likely be set up in areas where minorities can be more involved.

One suggestion, he said, was that the committee set up a forum after Mass at a primarily Hispanic church.

The next forum will be 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Red Mountain Multigenerational Center, 7550 E Adobe St., Mesa.

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