The Carroll County Sheriff’s office is hitting the books to learn a new language in order to help keep themselves and those in the community safe. Thanks to instructors Scott and Rocio Rickles, officers and other Sheriff’s Office employees are learning to communicate with those who speak Spanish.
Though the 12-week course, deputies and office works are not only learning the language, but how to embrace the culture and the people.
“Spanish is now the second most spoken language with English being the third,” said Scott Rickles. “It is only a matter of embracing it, understanding it, and learning about the people because they are wonderful people.”
Chief Deputy Brad Robinson said that Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Keith Jiles approached him last Thanksgiving with the idea of connecting with Rickles to teach deputies Spanish.
“Really and truly, to have these officers communicate with the public is important,” Robinson said. “Wherever you go you can run into someone who speaks in Spanish. I saw some negative post on social media that argued individuals should learn English. I understand their mentality, but the fact is it does not matter.”
Robinson said that if a person who primarily speaks Spanish is involved in a crime, whether victim or offender, the Sheriff’s Office wants to be able to communicate.
“The priority in this whole class is officer safety,” Robinson said. “It is important for there to be communication to keep people from getting hurt.”
Rickles said that having deputies in the county learn Spanish allows them to be friendlier to the community, and more effective on the job.
“Learning the Spanish language and culture is so important to communicate,” said Rickles. “We had a scenario where an officer had taken our class, came in contact with a Hispanic who spoke no English. The Hispanic walked toward the officers because in Mexico that is what you do. If the officer had not spoken any Spanish, it could have been a different outcome.”
Conversely, there are people in Carroll County who speak Spanish as their first language but are making an attempt to learn English.
“We want to keep officers safe but also individuals safe,” Sheriff Terry Langley said. “We have a diverse community and therefore it is important to be able to communicate with every diversity in the community. Particularly in the jail but also with those that come in contact with our detectives and patrol. There are citizens here that speak Spanish, that need services from the Sheriff’s Office, so it goes both ways.”
Rickles went to a language school in 1992 knowing only two words of Spanish. He became a missionary for almost 28 years and lived in multiple Latin American countries and fell in love with culture, people, language, music, and the food. He and his wife have a school of language at the Burson Center to help teach English and Spanish.
“Que Pasa is a conversation school of language where English and Spanish are taught,” said Rickles. “The Sheriff’s Office has about 20 officers in the class now but anyone in the Sheriff’s Office is allowed to take the class. If anyone is interested in the class they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or come by the Burson Center.”