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7354: Lauderdale Haitians laud Creole_Speaking police (fwd)
From: nozier <email@example.com>
Published Wednesday, March 14, 2001, in the Miami Herald
Lauderdale Haitians laud Creole-speaking police BY ERIKA BOLSTAD
Fort Lauderdale's Haitian community greeted the Police Department's
newest Creole-speaking employees Tuesday night with a standing ovation
and a round of applause, cheering on the city's commitment to better
relations between the police and Haitians.``That's the progress we've
made since our last meeting,''said Capt. Paul Kiley, who heads up the
team of officers who patrol the South Middle River neighborhood.
The new employees include Officer Michael Stitt, the department's only
Haitian-born, Creole-speaking officer, and Daniel Mirabal, a public
services aide born in the Dominican Republic.
The meeting was one in a series of town hall sessions organized by the
Fort Lauderdale Police Department and Minority Development &
Empowerment Inc./Haitian Community Center of Broward County.
The meeting, presented in English and Creole in the cafeteria at
Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, 800 NW 13th St., attracted about
80 people. It included presentations from educators and
social-services providers who emphasized empowerment, whether it was
improving English skills or seeking jobs.
Some people complained that they often felt hassled by police officers
for minor infractions English-speakers wouldn't be subject to. One
woman complained about a police officer who -- when writing her up
for a ticket -- asked her why she had such an expensive car if she was
from Haiti. Kiley repeatedly told people to call the department's
Creole-speaking community relations specialist to voice their
complaints. And he and other department brass used the meeting as a
forum to recruit more Creole-speaking officers, an idea that people
like Jean Joseph supported.
``I'm happy about it,'' said Joseph, who works for a company that
repairs sewer lines. ``I hope they get more.'' But what intrigued
Joseph most about the meeting was Kiley's effort to encourage
Haitians to attend South Middle River neighborhood meetings. Joseph
and others wrote down the time and date, liking the idea of the group's
political clout and the concept that neighbors and the community's
police officer could look out for each other.The officers [who] work in
this neighborhood choose this neighborhood,'' Kiley said. ``They
actually want to make it better and safer for you.''