In an effort to hire more bilingual officers who can communicate with Baltimore’s growing Hispanic population, the citys police department is planning a weeklong recruiting mission to Puerto Rico next month, reports the Baltimore Sun. Police officials have begun advertising in newspapers and hanging banners in the streets of the Caribbean island in an effort to lure potential recruits. Officers expect to meet with hundreds of candidates.
The latest figures estimate the city’s Hispanic population at more than 11,000, with several city neighborhoods continuing to see an influx of Spanish-speaking residents. Baltimore, like many law enforcement agencies across the nation, is struggling with officer shortages because of a favorable economy and military commitments overseas that have siphoned people from law enforcement jobs. Prosecutors and the city court system have also taken steps to deal with the influx of cases involving Spanish-speaking victims and defendants, said Margaret Burns, a spokeswoman for the local prosecutor’s office. “We definitely recognize there’s a need within the entire criminal justice system,” Burns said.