Dodge County Sheriff’s improving relations with Hispanic community

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(ABC 6 News) – A new initiative in Dodge County is hoping to bridge the relationship between law enforcement and the Hispanic community called Mi Voz.

It’s something a few deputies have been working on for a while now. They say they feel like there’s a lack of trust between Hispanic residents in the community and the police and they hope to fix it with a new meet and greet event.

Deputy Gideon Prudoehl is the man behind this initiative. He says it all started from learning more about the culture from his wife. Her family is from Mexico and they showed him what some people in other countries experience every day.

“We go down to Mexico and I kind of see how it is down there with the fear of the police and the military. When we have professional contact with people from other countries, primarily like in Dodge County its a lot of people from Nicaragua and Mexico and the first question they have for me is ‘am I going to be deported’ or ‘am I in trouble’ and we just want them to know that if we have contact with them they aren’t necessarily going to get deported, and they aren’t necessarily in trouble or the bad guy,” Prudoehl explained.

While many in the community are excited to see work being done in Dodge County, it’s not the first program of its kind in our area.

The St. Charles Police Department implemented a similar program two years ago, after its Police Chief Jose Pelaez saw Hispanic residents scared of language barriers.

“The other day I was approached by a community member and he said ‘Jose the other day my wife was having a seizure and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to call 911 because I didn’t know how to speak English’. Its a positive thing we’ve been doing the last two years,” explained Chief Pelaez.

He says attendees are more involved in community events and engage with law enforcement more often.

The goal in each of these programs is to allow people in the community to meet the men and women behind the badges and connect them with resources.

The DCSO event will be held on June 29th.