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#3439: Ft. Lauderdale to hire Haitian police liaison - FWD (fwd)


Ft. Lauderdale to hire Haitian police liaison


As soon as next month, Fort Lauderdale may hire a person who speaks Creole 
and English to improve relations between police and the city's growing 
Haitian population.

``That person will be out in the community, able to translate and answer a 
lot of questions for you,'' Capt. Paul Kiley told about 85 members of the 
city's Creole-speaking community at the city's fourth Haitian Town Hall 
meeting Tuesday.

With the help of translators, police opened the floor to the Haitian 
community to discuss topics that included policing in the community, career 
opportunities for Haitians in the police department, and overcoming the 
language barrier when dialing 911.

But the key topic of discussion Tuesday was the hiring of a Haitian liaison.

The 1990 Census placed the number of people of Haitian ancestry at 23,221 in 
Broward. Haitian leaders, however, say the number may now be as high as 
100,000. That estimate is based on the number of people to whom they provide 
immigration, translation and other services, according to the Minority 
Development & Empowerment Inc./Haitian Community Center of Broward County.

But right now, just one officer of the approximately 500 on the Fort 
Lauderdale police force speaks Creole.

Police said they have narrowed a field of dozens of applicants down to about 
11, and will conduct interviews in early May to find the right person for the 

The job will be a civilian position, paying about $30,300 annually.

``I'm glad to see that we're continuing the dialogue,'' City Manager Floyd 
Johnson told the group. ``The city of Fort Lauderdale is committed to 
providing the highest level of service to every member of our community.'

Henri-Claude Marcellus, a Fort Lauderdale resident and member of the Haitian 
press who said he broadcasts live on the Internet at wrci2000.com, said the 
city promised last year at a similar meeting it would soon be hiring a 
Haitian liaison.

``What did you do from last time to this time?'' Marcellus asked.

Police said they have been trying to find someone who can pass a written test 
for the position in English, as well as pass all the criminal background and 
drug screening tests.

``It's very difficult,'' said Alisa Cappuzzello, project director of the 
community policing center. ``We're trying to get people from Haitian 
backgrounds. Sometimes they can't pass the written test.''