Sheriff asks for help from Latinos

Published 3:03 pm Monday, August 25, 2008

Sheriff Chris Curry fears people who have information about the Inverness apartment murders may not come forward because they are scared — not only of the perpetrators but also police.

Curry said tips from the Latino community will be key in cracking the case.

“We really want to reach out to the Hispanic community for their help,” Curry said.

The sheriff worries Latinos may stay silent, fearing retaliation and deportation.

But Curry said his department isn’t interested in the immigration status of people who come forward.

“We are interested in taking the people who did this into custody,” Curry said.

Curry said there is a need to build better relationships between law enforcement and the Hispanic community.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Isabel Rubio, founder of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama.

“Hopefully, we can start to bridge the difference. There is a large amount of distrust,” said Rubio. “Maybe this is the domino that needs to fall to initiate change.”

Rubio founded the coalition in 1999 to help improve the quality of life for Latinos in Alabama.

District Attorney Robby Owens agrees officers need a better presence in Hispanic communities.

“In law enforcement, we need better community practices in the Spanish speaking population,” Owens said.

Investigators are working through the language barrier with the help of translators.

Spanish speaking officers also responded Wednesday night to check on residents.

“There is a need for the immigrant community to access other Spanish speakers,” said Curry.

The sheriff’s office has also started a 24-hour tip line at 877-298-3220 that will be answered in Spanish.