The influence of Latino police officers is felt in the hallways of our department's stations and within the community. When you walk through department facilities you realize the growing Latino impact within the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
When you look into the eyes of the Latino officer, you will see history and pride in their heritage. But most of all, you will feel their strength in their commitment to law enforcement and the community. Latino officers are shaping the department and the countless areas and neighborhoods that have seen an influx of Latinos communities, Mexicans by far the most numerous among them.
I think you're going to see the beginning of a major cultural influencing group, which is Hispanic-driven and Hispanic-led within the LAPD. Latinos make up one-third of the department's police officers, the largest minority group in LAPD, and their presence is felt in many ways. Our presense is so strong that officers with no Latino heritage at all are taking to learning the language and enjoying our Mexican cultural celebrations. Our food is so popular that Salsa is outselling ketchep on U.S. grocery shelves.
In the outlying police divisions, some LAPD commanders have seen their areas swell with Latino residents and have discovered a sudden need to learn the language. My advise is to go beyond language. Get familiar with the culture, people want to connect with you. When non-Latino officers speak the language, they find a spark within the communities that appreciate the fact that officers attempt to speak Spanish.
The Latin American Law Enforcement Association (LALEY) and its membership should be seen as an awakening force within LAPD and communities we serve. Issues important to LALEY should be getting a hard look by our department and managers who are tasked with our association's concerns.
While our association was in a formative stage and running into opposition from various areas, we were not a formidable force.
That's not the case anymore.
Art. Placencia is the current President of the Latin American Law Enforcement Association (LALEY). He is a 34 year officer of LAPD.