CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte police say they are trying to recruit more Spanish-speaking officers who can help serve a large number of people in the city who do not speak English.
It's more evidence that Charlotte is becoming a bigger melting pot.as CMPD attempts to change the culture at the department.
A new program is designed to attract officers who are hHspanic and speak second languages.
The latest recruiting effort is attracting double-digit dividends.
Captain Dave Johnson heads up the recruiting division for the department and he sees an uptick connected to the numbers.
"Our applications are up 40 percent. We're tracking to be up 40 percent which is fantastic news," he said.
He keeps one specific ethnic group on his radar.
The pictures of Hispanic officers in uniform stored on his computer are meant to be an inducement.
"Those are the folks that we want to target with this kind of advertising," Johnson told WBTV News.
Immigration attorney Victoria Gonzales feels this kind employment initiative has the potential to break down barriers.
"If you have a police officer who is bi-lingual, they will be building bridges if a hispanic may not speak English well or they could help interpret or help understand the situation,"Gonzales said.
Two members of the current class have tied to Central and South America.
Christan Cruz has Mexican parents but was born in the states.
"I felt like CMPD had very good interest in the Latino community, and that really helped me approach myself to CMPD," he said.
Tatiana Corrales who hails from Columbia, South America agrees.
She said, "Sometimes those barriers can affect the outcome of things, and I obviously want to be a part of that to make things a little better."
CMPD has found a way to sweeten the pot.
"If you come in with a four year degree, and Spanish is your first language and you're also an English speaker, we'll pay you an extra five percent, and you're looking at coming in being an rookie making almost $50,000," Johnson said.
The current recruit class is expected to graduate by the end of the year.