SA police debut Spanish-language community program

Unidos aims to bridge gap between police, residents


SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Police Department officials say they are always looking for ways to better develop relations with residents.

Tuesday night, they introduced the Unidos program, which is geared toward Spanish-speaking residents.

Pastor Mike Degerolami, of St. Timothy's Church, hopes this program opens up the lines of communication between Spanish-speaking San Antonians and the police.

"This small little area of the West Side has a lot of population, and this church is like the community center that serves so many needs for this community," said Degerolami.

That's  why the San Antonio Police Department chose St. Timothy's to introduce Unidos.

SAPD Chief Anthony Trevino said the program is needed to fight crime.

"Their perception or reality of police is very different from the way it is here in the United States," he said. "Often times, they may view (police) as brutal or corrupt."

The Unidos program first started in the Dallas area in 2002. SAPD is the first police department outside of Dallas to start a chapter.

"By outreach, one thing we're able to do is we're going to create better neighbors, and by creating better neighbors, we'll be able to create better neighborhoods and a better community," said Trevino.

More than 600 families belong to St. Timothy's Catholic Church. Degerolami said he hopes the Unidos program will help fight the crime that constantly plagues that part of town. He said gangs and drugs are constantly hurting the people of the area.

"We have to find a way that puts a stop to that behavior but also protects the witnesses from revenge," said Degerolami.

The next Unidos meeting is scheduled for March 9 at St. Timothy's.