GROVETOWN,Ga. (WJBF)- When you think of Grovetown, Georgia you might not think of the multicultural center of the universe, but this small town is booming. With growth comes the need for diversity when it comes to communication.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has three officers who speaks Spanish. NewsChannel 6’s Ashley Flete spoke to one of those officers on Monday. Deputy Danny Figueroa is a Puerto Rico native who moved to Georgia back in 2011.
Deputy Figueroa talks about the need for someone to help translate to those who do not speak English in the area.
“Fire rescue and EMS when they need a someone who speaks more than one language; we have a growing Spanish community. They request a person who can help them with the language barrier. They will call 911 dispatch to request 204 to help translate to Spanish.”
When Deputy Figs isn’t changing his route to help translate for his colleagues, you can find him at Euchee Creek Elementary where he patrols the campus and serves as a role model. 12% of the students at Euchee Creek are Hispanic.
Officer Figueroa helps make sure that their first impression of a policeman, is positive.
Kathy Yeargain, Principal at Euchee Creek Elementary shares how valuable Deputy Figueroa is to the school, staff and students.
“I think it’s wonderful that our Spanish speaking children are around English speaking people all day long everyday at school. It is nice to have officer Figgy because he is so positive for them. To have that extra person that speaks their language, it makes them feel at ease.”
He uses the uniform and his knowledge to lead by example, since he knows the students are always watching him, he and other faculty members started a “Junior Deputy of the Month” program. With this program, they reward a student who has done something courageous or thoughtful.
What are some of the challenges you feel that you face when it comes to being bilingual?
“Sometimes I need to take time because when you change from one language to another it’s hard. You catch yourself when people don’t understand what it is that you are saying,” answers Deputy Figueroa.