Grant serves Latino population

NKU professor Dr. Holly Riffe, will work with community leaders to address the challenges facing the emerging Latino population in the Tri-State area all thanks to a federal grant she received through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“I can work with local experts and together we can generate creative ideas to address the challenges that impact our community,” Riffe said.

One idea that developed, as a result of the grant, is a Hispanic Citizens Police Academy in Florence. The purpose of the Academy, is to inform and educate the Latino population of the laws and customs of the United States. It will help them better understand the culture and ease relations between the Hispanics and the police.

Iversy Velez, project manager for the Academy, will work with Lt. Tim Chesser, of the Florence Police Department, to develop the curriculum for the classes.

“It is a good step for Hispanics to adjust to the culture,” Velez said. “It helps them to adjust and bridge gaps.”

The Latino population has increased tremendously in the past years in the Tri-State area, particularly in Florence. According to the 2000 Census, the number of Hispanics increased more than 400 percent since 1990.

The Academy is only one of the programs this grant funds. Velez said she is trying to get involved with the needs of the Hispanic community so they can be addressed.

“We are also working with community leaders interested in ideas such as high school retention, also facilitating services to non-English speaking parents, to communicate and process their needs and requests,” she said.

Velez said they are still looking for community leaders that are interested in addressing the needs of the Hispanic community through “ideas and programs that will help both ethnic groups to have a peaceful and productive coexistence.”

The classes meet for two hours on Tuesday nights for five weeks beginning April 15. The program may run longer if the interest warrants more classes.