Spanish Academy

A citizens' police academy for Latinos in Durham is being praised as a way to help bridge a language and culture barrier between police and the Hispanic community.

Durham police say they see more interest than expected at the twice-weekly night classes. The Spanish classes have averaged 35 people, while about five people have attended each English class.

Police Chief Steve Chalmers says the idea grew out of his talks with Latino leaders about how to increase the department's involvement in the Spanish-speaking community. The classes teach Spanish speakers about vehicle safety, driving laws, noise violations and weapons, among other things. Police will hold a graduation for both academies on June 26th.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)