SAVANNAH, GA. (May 1, 2014): Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department’s Latino Officer Outreach Program (L.O.O.P.) will re-launch at this year’s Cinco De Mayo Festival, scheduled for Saturday, May 3, from noon until 8 p.m. at Lake Mayer Park on Montgomery Cross Road.
The festival is a collaboration between community outreach organizations, including: the Latino Coalition of Savannah and Youth for a Cleaner Environment (YFACE). It will feature an hour-long presentation of SCMPD’s K-9, Mounted Patrol and motorcycle units beginning at 3 p.m. L.O.O.P. representatives also will participate in a public safety panel discussion from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. The festival will include music, dancing and games. It is free and open to the public.
“The Cinco De Mayo Festival is the perfect opportunity for Metro’s L.O.O.P. members to make our presence known to Chatham County’s native Spanish-speakers,” said coordinator, APO Enrique Marquez. “Our goal is to make all members of this community feel safe and included in every service offered by SCMPD.”
L.O.O.P is a specialized unit consisting of SCMPD officers volunteering their services to the Hispanic population. It was established in 2007, but dissipated through attrition and promotions.
Maj. Dean Fagerstrom, Commander of Metro’s Special Operations Units said, “We’re very excited about the return of this program. In the past, L.O.O.P. was a great resource for Spanish-speaking citizens in our community. We’re looking forward to seeing this program and its services continue for our citizens.”
L.O.O.P. was created in response to the growing need for Spanish-speaking Metro officers to translate during violent crime investigations. While providing translation services, L.O.O.P participants also observed barriers in the cultural understanding between the Hispanic and public safety communities. L.O.O.P. seeks to remove these barriers through education and communication.
Currently, L.O.O.P. has 6 members assigned to various units and shifts within SCMPD.