|Program:||Haitian Citizens Police Academy/Haitian Roving Patrol, Delray Beach, FL|
|Contact(s):||Officer Skip Brown, Delray Beach Police Department: (561) 243-7873|
|Purpose:||To open the lines of communication among ethnic groups, integrate Haitians into the community and to improve the quality of life for the entire community|
The unexpected migration of thousands of Haitian immigrants into the city of Delray Beach in the late 1980s and early 1990s created challenges for the community to overcome, including new language barriers and significant cultural differences. Rising victimization rates among the Haitian immigrants resulted in a profound distrust of authority among Haitians. Two programs arising out of these concerns, promoted by Delray Beach officials, community leaders and residents, were the Haitian Citizens Police Academy and the Haitian Roving Patrol. The Haitian Citizens Police Academy, begun in 1995, emphasized a positive citizen/police alliance built on a sense of trust, respect and partnership. Resulting from the immediate success of that program, the Haitian Roving Patrol was formed, allowing community residents a measure of control in policing their own neighborhoods.
The Haitian Citizens Policy Academy brought Haitian community activists and residents together in a 10-week program of instruction on local government and law enforcement issues. While schools were reaching the younger generation, this program created a way to reach their parents. Past experiences of corruption, brutality and distrust of authority prevented victims of violent crimes from coming forward. In response, the program provides informative instruction on police issues, code enforcement, city government and family services. The Haitian Roving Patrol puts pairs of uniformed, Creole-speaking volunteers in marked police vehicles to patrol targeted areas, increase the police presence and provide security to troubled neighborhoods. Trained in safety procedures and in identifying suspicious activity, the Roving Patrol volunteers are also used for special events and emergencies, and to help fight crime in other neighborhoods throughout the city. Roving Patrol volunteers use mobile phones and radios to report suspicious activity to the police department for response.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
In July 1998, the city completed its third Haitian Citizens Police Academy, graduating 45 Haitian community members, many of whom were initially reluctant to enter the police building based on their long-held fear of police. The first and second classes conducted by the Haitian Citizens Police Academy graduated 40 and 43 people, respectively. The Haitian Patrol members have forged a close working relationship with the police department, the crime rate in areas patrolled has decreased dramatically, and local residents have increased security.
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