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6494: Police hire a liaison for Haitians (fwd)
From: nozier <email@example.com>
Friday, December 29, 2000, in the Miami Herald
Police hire a liaison for Haitians By BRAD BENNETT
After a search spanning more than a year, Fort Lauderdale police have
woman to bridge the language and cultural gap between law enforcement
city's growing Haitian population. Junia Jeantilus, a former child
abuse investigator with the Broward Sheriff's Office, started her
civilian job as the Haitian police liaison this week, City Manager Floyd
Johnson said. The city will formally introduce Jeantilus, 28, of North
Miami Beach at a City Commission meeting on Wednesday, Johnson said.
English-speaking police and Haitian leaders hope that Jeantilus will
relations between police officers and Haitians, who have complained of
mistreatment and brutality. ``We see Ms. Jeantilus being the embodiment
of trust between the Haitian community and the police department,'' said
Marvin Dejean, spokesman for Minority Development & Empowerment,
Inc./Haitian Community Center of Broward County.
PLAYING VITAL ROLE
``She's going to play a vital, critical role in helping this community
grow, not only
in trust but also in understanding and feeling welcome too,'' Dejean
seeing one of our own being part of the infrastructure.' Minority
Development held several Haitian town hall meetings with police over the
last two years, advocating the hiring of Haitians onto the police force.
``It's long awaited and much anticipated,'' Johnson said of the new
hire, recalling that the city hired another person for the job earlier
this year, only to watch her leave to pursue her education after her
first day on the job.
Johnson said he hopes Jeantilus' hire will help the city not only reach
out to the
Haitian community but also recruit Haitian officers.
Right now, the city has no Haitian, Creole-speaking officers on its
force. There is, however, one Haitian public service aide who assists
ONE OFFICER URGED
Haitian leaders called for at least one Haitian officer to make
welcome in the community. The department says it is actively recruiting
other Haitians officers. But Haitian leaders in Fort Lauderdale say
progress is slow.
They look at other Broward police departments with Haitian officers --
Miramar, Wilton Manors and the Broward Sheriff's Office -- and wonder
Lauderdale can't find qualified applicants, too. Although the latest
figures from the 2000 Census were not available Thursday for Broward's
Haitian population, the 1990 Census counted 23,221 people of Haitian
descent in Broward. Haitian leaders, who work closely with Haitians in
immigration, translation, job search and other services, say the true
number is much higher. Jeantilus, who is of Haitian descent, declined to
comment on Thursday until she ccould get permission from her supervisor
to talk to reporters.
Fluent in Creole and English, Jeantilus holds a bachelor's degree in
communications, with emphasis on psychology, from St. Thomas University
Miami, Johnson said.
WORKING ON MASTER'S
She is also working to obtain a master's degree in social work at St.
Johnson said. She was hired in September as a child protective
investigative specialist for the Broward Sheriff's Office, but
voluntarily resigned in November to pursue her
education, BSO spokeswoman Cheryl Stopnick said.