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North Las Vegas police work to address fear of law enforcement among city's immigrants

North Las Vegas police strengthens ties with community
Posted at 11:12 PM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-30 12:25:35-05

NORTH LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The North Las Vegas Police Department's community engagement division is hosting a conversation to discuss immigration.

A member of our Hispanic community says in his 26 years of living in Las Vegas he has witnessed the fear many have toward law enforcement.

At a very young age, Juan Mendez and his parents moved to this country from Mexico. Being an immigrant in this country, he understands the struggle many face. He says in our Hispanic community, there are some misconceptions when it comes to law enforcement.

“The status of an individual when it comes to our police department — I think it matters to a point, but not to the point where you are going to be fearful to where you won’t call to protect yourself or your loved ones,” Mendez said.

Mendez says he understands the thought of getting deported is a major concern for some. He says the fear to pick up the phone and call for help has led to many unreported cases of sexual abuse and criminal activity.

“If you are doing the right thing and you are contributing to society and you are a good model citizen, even though your status is not up to par, I don’t think you should be fearful of calling in,” said Mendez.

Mendez says he was glad to find out North Las Vegas Police Department planned an event for our Hispanic community to address immigration-related topics. He says our community has misunderstood many things because of a lack of information.

“The more knowledge we have and the more we get involved, the more we see things, the more wisdom we create within ourselves to be able to stand in front of a judge and ask the proper questions,” said Mendez.

Gabriela Vazquez, an NLVPD crime prevention specialist, says they invited immigration attorneys and a sergeant to discuss the path to citizenship and the involvement law enforcement has with immigration.

“Our law enforcement officers are not immigration officers," Vasquez said. "We are here to fight crime, and members of the community — whether you are here undocumented or legally — it doesn’t matter. If you see a crime, it is important you report it to a law enforcement agency and that is what we are here for."

The event runs from noon until 2 p.m. at the neighborhood recreation center at 1638 N. Bruce St. in North Las Vegas.

As part of the North Las Vegas Police Department's commitment to strengthening ties with our community, their Community Engagement Division regularly hosts events that bring law enforcement and residents together. 

Click here for more information about upcoming events.