Sheriff’s Office hires a new bilingual deputy
When a car collided with a Park City School bus last week, deputy Benjamin Carreno, with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, was one of the emergency responders at the scene.
Carreno has been a deputy for less than a month, but the driver of the car was a Hispanic woman who did not speak English and was having a difficult time communicating with law enforcement officers. Carreno, a former Utah Highway Patrol trooper, is also a native Spanish speaker.
"I think that was probably the first call that I’ve been on here where I had to speak Spanish," Carreno said. "But you can tell that they are more secure when they can talk to someone they can communicate with."
When he was a trooper, Carreno often acted as a translator in Daggett County for fellow troopers and officers. Now he is one of five bilingual employees within the Sheriff’s Office and Summit County Jail. He became a deputy on Nov. 23.
With a significant Latino population in the county, public entities like the Sheriff’s Office are taking steps to provide more services for the Spanish-speaking citizens in the county.
Sheriff Justin Martinez said it is critical that the Sheriff’s Office has individuals who speak Spanish. The Sheriff’s Office has access to a translating service, however, third-party translation is time consuming, Martinez said.
"We owe it to them to be able to communicate with them in real time," Martinez said.
The Sheriff’s Office recruits diverse officers, especially from the Latino community to satisfy the need, Martinez said.
"We try to be as diverse as possible with hiring Latinos, African-Americans and women. We want a good representation of the community and demographic that we serve," Martinez said. "We are really cognizant of our outreach and our recruitment where we go looking for those individuals.
"Through our recruitment efforts we were able to find a very valuable resource in deputy Carreno that will benefit the Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Summit County," Martinez said.
Sgt. Ron Bridge said even with Carreno, the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have "nearly enough" Spanish speakers in the department.
"When we do not have that asset when responding to an emergency situation or a routine traffic collision and we are not able to gather the correct information because of that language barrier it can be a great difficulty," Bridge said. "Its not just Spanish speakers. It can be people of all nations, especially here in Park City, when we work in a resort community that draws people from all over the world."
Carreno was born in Heber City to Mexican immigrants and grew up in Coalville. His parents are from Guanajuato, Mexico, and raised Carreno to speak Spanish.
It wasn’t until he went to preschool that he had to learn English. However, his parents continued to speak Spanish around him.
Since becoming a law enforcement officer in 2014, Carreno has often used his language skills.
"You can tell they are more secure that they can talk to someone more they can communicate with. It allows those who don’t speak English more of an opportunity express what they know."
More than 11 percent of Summit County residents identified as Latino or Hispanic in the 2010 census, with 12.8 percent reporting that they speak a language other than English in the home.
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