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'We needed to have this connection': Building trust between Latinos and law enforcement in Idaho

Studies show Latinos trust law enforcement less than non-Latinos. So, KTVB set out to learn how officers are trying to build relationships with Hispanic communities.

Brenda Rodriguez, Morgan Romero

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Published: 11:10 PM MST November 17, 2022
Updated: 7:48 AM MST November 18, 2022

For many years, Latinos and Hispanics say they have felt a lack of safety and trust when it comes to Idaho's police departments. 

Some of the feelings stem from how and where they group up, in countries where police are corrupt. 

Margie Gonzalez, the executive director of the Idaho Commission for Hispanic Affairs (ICHA), calls it an ongoing issue. 

"That negative experience has been passed down from generation to generation," Gonzalez said. "When you have someone in your family either be tortured or murdered, tell me how you get past that? How do you get past that and start to trust?" 

Some of the distrust also stems from their own interactions and experiences with law enforcement in the United States. The distrust creates a divide in the communities, but also a threat to overall public safety.

A study by ICHA shows 78% of non-Hispanics say they would report a crime if they witnessed one, but only 57% of Hispanics feel the same way.

Gonzalez said the big issue is trust, but another main reason for not reporting is the language barrier.

"Some of these police departments are pulling people over, the patrol officers, and some of them were telling me, 'well we have them waiting there for 20 to 30 minutes before we can get anyone that speaks their language,'" Gonzalez said. 

According to Gonzalez, the wait times is primarily due to the lack of representation in Idaho's police departments. 

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