Police chief tries to drop cultural barrier between Hispanics and officers

Cannon Beach police have set a good example by reaching out to the town's Hispanic community. As reported by Helen Warriner on June 14, Police officer Rob Schulz's community policing project included a free community meeting for Hispanic residents. The topics spanned a broad range from children's vehicle safety to the Oregon Health Plan.

Some 10.5 percent of Cannon Beach's full-time resident population is Hispanic. Police Chief Gene Halliburton told Warriner that he's trying to break down a cultural barrier between police and the Hispanic community. Halliburton has set a goal of recruiting a Spanish-speaking reserve officer.

When a community's population mix shifts, it can be threatening to long-time residents. In too many places, the dominant culture regards a minority population with suspicion and disdain. That attitude leads nowhere.

Cannon Beach's strategy demonstrates the central importance of policing in a town's social fabric. The police have day-to-day contact with a broader range of a community than all but a one or two other professions. Police also range geographically through a place in a way that no other group does.

Cannon Beach deserves credit for a pro-active strategy. Other cities in Clatsop and Pacific counties can learn from it.

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