Local News

Spanish-Speaking Rocky Mount Officers Aid In Emergency Situations

Posted September 17, 2002 10:16 a.m. EDT

— Officers in Rocky Mount can now utilize their knowledge of the Spanish language and earn a little extra money in the process.

Rocky Mount Police Officer Brandon Medina says knowing Spanish has helped him sort through a lot of situations that would have been impossible otherwise.

"It will alleviate some of the tensions with traffic investigations and a lot of crimes that occur when the victims cannot speak English," said Medina.

Those who can speak Spanish fluently, and translate it get a little something extra.

"They receive $25 extra every paycheck, and in return for that, they agree to be available to all city departments to help when it's needed," Human Resources Director Janice Cox said.

Medina is the first city employee to take advantage of the new benefit.

Translators are needed most urgently for emergency situations, but the city said there are a lot of other ways a Spanish-speaking officer can be helpful.

Setting up utility accounts are easier with a translator and fire crews agree that a translator can help them work more quickly in some cases.

"A lot of times, we don't have anyone who can speak their language and if they can have someone on call that we can contact, it will tremendously help us," said Rocky Mount Fire Department. Capt. Larry Johnson.

Officials say the skill would save time, and in some cases, could save a life.

Rocky Mount is also offering a bonus for people who can communicate in American Sign Language. More languages may be added as the city grows, say officials.