Latino Officer’s Plea: “Cop Brains” Shouldn’t Be “Occupying Force”


Kansas City police officer Octavio “Chato” Villalobos wanted to become an officer to stop the racial profiling he experienced and his children continued to experience. His plan quickly changed after basic training. “I went in with a good heart and came out with a cop brain,” he said in Memphis yesterday in a workshop aimed at strengthening relationships between Latinos and law enforcement, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I used my Spanish to arrest people, because that’s how I’m going to be a good cop … I had to prove that I was a good officer by their standards.”

He wanted to work in the neighborhood he grew up in. He had great arrest numbers and even worked as a homicide detective. He realized that wasn’t the way to police his community. Villalobos explained that community policing and target-oriented policing works better in communities of color because police officers need to engage the community to become “partners in fighting crime and not an occupying force.” He asked Latino leaders attending the annual Congreso Latino conference to ask for a better type of policing. Many Latinos distrust police officers, and that is a serious problem, said Ivonne Perez of Catholic Charities. “Immigrants come to me and tell me, 'I can report the crime to the police but the case takes too long and who is going to protect me? Just forget it’,” Perez said. “They complain about the way they are treated by police.”

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