Park City police officer honored for community outreach￼
Franco Libertini praised for 'extraordinary efforts'
When Franco Libertini immigrated from Argentina to the United States at age 23, he faced challenges as a new arrival who didn’t speak English but he worked hard to master the language and adapt to American life.
His efforts eventually landed him a job as a Park City police officer, one that allows him to give back to his adopted country for all the opportunities it gave him.
As the Park City Police Department’s community outreach officer, Libertini has established relationships with numerous organizations, was instrumental in forming the Latino Police Academy, created a Spanish-language Utah driver’s license education class and brought the first Police Explorer Post to Park City.
He also provides translation services and ensures law enforcement messages are disseminated through radio interviews to the Latino community. In addition, he updates the police department’s Spanish Facebook page with the same material found on the English platforms.
Libertini was honored recently by the NAACP Salt Lake Branch with a First Responders Appreciation Award, which is given for outstanding community service, actions of valor on or off duty or exemplary law enforcement service.
In a nomination letter, Police Chief Wade Carpenter praised Libertini’s “extraordinary efforts.”
“Officer Libertini started in our patrol division and quickly recognized the value of formalizing an outreach program here in Park City,” Carpenter wrote. “In 2018, Franco was given the opportunity as a Community Outreach Officer position was created. Since the position’s inception, Franco has gone well above expectations in formalizing the position.”
After immigrating to America in 2001, Libertini focused on learning English. He got a job as an animal shelter technician with West Valley City the next year, then became an animal control officer. After that came a stint as a code enforcement officer and in 2007, he became a police officer in West Valley, where he was part of the community outreach program.
“I wanted to give back,” Libertini said of his decision to go into law enforcement.
His next move was to the Park City Police Department in 2016.
“I was looking for a police department in a city that had a high level of diversity, and Park City is one of those,” Libertini said.
One-third of the community is Hispanic, some of them temporary workers from Latin America who come to the United States under a visitor program, he said.
While working, Libertini also has been attending school. He earned associate degrees in criminal justice and general education from Salt Lake Community College and a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of Utah. He’s now studying for a master’s degree in public administration at the U.
As community outreach officer, Libertini works with nonprofits, homeowner associations, community groups and businesses. He has connected with the Mexican Consulate, Park City Community Cohort, Latino Arts Festival, Boy Scouts of America and Peace House, among others.
Others are taking part in Park City’s community-oriented policing.
“We involve all of our officers in this outreach effort and this policing philosophy of reaching out and working with every member of our community,” Libertini said. “We come across people from all over the world. We have temporary workers. We have visitors. We have people who are here on vacation and they don’t understand our laws sometimes.”
The outreach effort includes a Citizen Police Academy and a Latino Police Academy. The multi-week programs cover police procedures, traffic stops, crime scenes and investigations, firearms and use of force and the criminal justice system. Domestic violence, crime prevention and how to file a police report also are discussed.
The information is provided in Spanish for Latino Police Academy participants.
“When you talk about public safety, there cannot be misunderstanding or miscommunication,” Libertini said. “It’s important that information is not only translated but also readily available and people can also discuss these topics in their language so they understand the importance of keeping themselves safe.”
The outreach gives community members the opportunity to interact with officers and build long-lasting relationships, he said.
“Having somebody that can guide you through the process or can guide you to the right organizations and the right people to give you that helping hand is critical,” Libertini said. “We work with a lot of different organizations in providing that help.”
Emma Zevallos, who participated in the Latino Police Academy last fall, said the program addressed the “myths and suspicions and misconceptions” about the police.
“It gave me an opportunity to personally work on my biases in regards to law enforcement,” Zevallos said. “It was nice to see that safe space for people to have these conversations and learn about the law and have that connection with them.”
She said Libertini breaks language and cultural barriers and helps in her work. Zevallos is director of prevention and education at Peace House, a Park City nonprofit that serves women, children and men who are survivors of domestic violence and abuse in Summit and Wasatch counties.
“Franco is such a great partner that if I have a community member that has a question about law enforcement, I can just give them Franco’s work number and they can ask him the question directly,” Zevallos said. “I feel like people in the community can ask him questions and he’s very responsive and he’s very easy to work with.”
Hailee Hernandez, basic needs assistance data coordinator at the Christian Center of Park City, said Libertini comes to the organization’s pantry once a month for Coffee with a Cop, which provides people with the opportunity to learn about available resources and communicate with officers in a non-judgmental and safe environment. Some have a fear of talking to the police but Libertini breaks down those barriers by talking about the work he does, she said.
“Franco is going to our clientele and meeting them at their point of need,” Hernandez said. “They’re getting groceries and he’s providing information.”
Libertini also is good at connecting people who are homeless to the center’s services that will meet their needs and keep them safe, she said. He also helps the Christian Center’s staff, she said.
“Our basic needs assistance team who serves anybody in need of general social service support, as well as homelessness services, really rely on Franco for a sounding board sometimes when they don’t really know how to deal with a client,” Hernandez said.
Libertini also has excelled as post advisor for the Park City Police Department’s Explorer Cadet Program, which is part of the Boy Scouts of America and the Learning for Life Exploring Program. Experts teach young men and women ages 14 to 20 about law enforcement subjects and the cadets participate in community service events and ride-alongs with police officers.
The Crossroads of the West Council, Boy Scouts of America, honored Libertini last year with the William H. Spurgeon, III Award, the highest recognition for individuals and organizations contributing significant leadership to the Exploring Program.
Libertini worked a long time to establish the Park City post two and a half years ago and has worked tirelessly with the cadets, according to Georgia Smith, the Learning for Life Exploring director for the council, which provides youth-development programs in Utah, southern Idaho and western Wyoming.
“For each youth that’s involved, he wants the best outcome,” Smith said. “He’s always trying to find a way to connect with them. He really is dedicated to youth and to helping them.”
His job is challenging because there is so much to do but the opportunity to work in Park City is priceless, Libertini said.
He added, “I was lucky enough to get the job and be part of this amazing community and this amazing department.”
Park City Council contest draws nine, some with established names and others with political newcomer status
The period when candidates needed to file campaign paperwork closed on Wednesday. There was not a rush of interest in the final hours, but the field is an intriguing one nonetheless.
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