By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE - At the Oct. 1 meeting of the Fort Pierce City Commission, City Commissioner Reginald Sessions wanted to discuss some concerns he had about the ability of officers from the Fort Pierce Police Department to be able to communicate with residents of the community.
"Historically, the city is known for being a migrant farm worker city, and that has brought with it a lot of Creole-speaking individuals," Commissioner Sessions said. "Currently, we don't have officers that can translate Creole."
Commissioner Session felt it was a problem that could escalate into a major problem from a liability standpoint.
Deputy Chief Frank Amandro addressed the commissioner's concerns.
"We actively recruit all the time," he said. "We take it very seriously."
Deputy Chief Amandro stated 18 police department employees are bilingual, and there is currently a job application pending from someone who speaks Creole.
"We have a history of recruiting Creole-speaking employees," he said. "We just had one that left to work in Martin County."
He explained if there is currently an issue in communication with a resident, a service through the 911 program will allow the officer to communicate using a phone.
"It's not as good as having an officer on staff," Deputy Chief Amandro said. "But there is a way to communicate with every nationality."
To assist the Creole community, the police department does have members of the civilian staff who speak the language, and the department is currently working on submitting a salary incentive for employees who are multi-lingual.
Nick Mimms, Fort Pierce interim city manager, said he would also look into statistics from a variety of areas within city government to see if the city has the ability to communicate in different languages.
"I think we do better than most agencies when it comes to exemplifying what our community is made of," he said.