Wednesday evening members of the Tampa Police Department met with Hispanic business owners, hoping to build a bridge between the two groups.
This is the first meeting the Chief has held. He wanted to start with business owners, hoping they would spread the word to the Hispanic community that they are here to help.
During the meeting, the police department shared a number of resources that are available and they encouraged attendees to notify them of any concerns within the community.
“I would venture to say that this is the start of a great opportunity for us to build those bridges and further strengthen the relationships that we may have already forged,” Officer Dennis Small, the Hispanic Liaison Officer with Tampa PD, said.
Officer Small does not believe it is too late to connect with the Hispanic community.
“Every day brings another opportunity to make a connection,” Officer Small said.
While the turnout was low for the first meeting, Tampa PD is not shying away from hosting more meetings with business owners. They believe this is the start of strengthening the relationship between officers and the Hispanic Community.
One business owner told ABC Action News he was surprised and happy when an officer visited his restaurant last week to invite him and other business owners to the meeting. Jorge Ñorena, the owner of Asados al Carbón, said he is on board with strengthening the relationship between police and the Hispanic Community.
In Spanish he told ABC Action News some customers have told him they are afraid they will be caught in a police raid so they avoid going out to eat. The department promised they investigate crime and not someone’s immigration status.
Ñorena also told the police department he would like to see lights or a speed bump in front of his business due to a high number of accidents.
There were some concerns raised that people are not reporting crimes either.