Police Department Joins Amigos Program

September 3, 2019

Amber Gerber

The Courier

The Marshall Police Department last month announced it had joined the Amigos en Azul program, an organization dedicated to dissolving the cultural barriers between law enforcement and the county’s Hispanic population. Chief John Nault said the local police department decided to get involved in the program in May after hearing that some members of the local Hispanic population felt they were being targeted by law enforcement.

Amigos en Azul was started by the Madison Police Department more than a decade ago with the goal of mending fences between the law enforcement and Hispanic communities, build partnerships and open lines of communication.

“With all of the national rhetoric, the Latino community tends to feel like they are targeted so it was one of the missions for the Madison Police Department and then other departments to reach out to them,” Nault said.

The chief spoke with local groups including members of the Marshall School District and Joining Forces for Families on what could be done to alleviate the fears of the Hispanic community that the law enforcement was targeting them. Nault attended an Amigos en Azul meeting in June and asked if Marshall could participate.

“They welcomed us with open arms,” he said.

Marshall Police Officer Brian Faulhaber volunteered to represent the department. He decided to take part in the Amigos en Azul because as a native Californian, he grew up around the Hispanic community. Furthermore, Faulhaber sees it as another avenue to reach out to the community.

The officer said the Amigos en Azul attend community events where they provide brochures and answer questions related to law enforcement and municipal topics, including how to obtain a drivers license, questions about traffic violations and licensing an animal.

“The program gives people the chance to interact with police while they’re not in the line of duty,” Faulhaber said.

The Amigos en Azul program also has a phone line where people can call with questions related to law enforcement answered by an officer who speaks Spanish. That number is 608-209-2403.

Nault hopes the program will help Marshall’s Hispanic community feel comfortable in the village and feel law enforcement is on their side and will not treat them any differently.

“I want our Latino village residents to know that the Marshall Police Department is not concerned about their immigration status. We see them as valuable members of our community and want them to feel welcomed here,” he said. “One of the Marshall Police Department’s core values is human dignity, we acknowledge and promote acceptance of all cultures, values, and people. We carry out our duties with dignity, respect, and fairness to all.”

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