Latinx Youth

Below are categories for questions that have been answered by community members. Keep in mind that the following responses may represent many members of this group but do not represent all people in a community. Not all people from diverse populations conform to commonly known culture-specific behaviors, beliefs and actions. Each person is an individual, as well as a community member.

What cultural / ethnic / religious traditions or beliefs should law enforcement be aware of?

  • Spending time with family and friends are vital parts of life.
  • Many Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans are Roman Catholic Christians.

What is the appropriate manner to greet you? (demeanor, non-verbal, body space, handshake, bow, male-female interaction etc.)

  • Recognize youth as people, do not judge by appearances.
  • Greeting is very important. - "Hi, how are you doing?" Establish rapport; introduce yourself and extend a handshake.
  • Keep a calm composure and steady pace when approaching youth. Respect a youth's personal space. Youth recognize you as the authority figure.
  • Be conscious of where your hands are placed; resting your hand on your gun can be perceived as threatening. Keep communication simple and professional to avoid escalating into complicated situations.
  • Be aware of your tone of voice (tone, pace, pitch, volume). For example, yelling does not help and will only escalate the situation. Provide explanations in a clear and respectful manner. For example, "I want to ensure we are in a safe situation. Can you please show me your hands?" This will help youth comply and avoid confusion.

Who should be addressed or acknowledged first? Who is the head of the household?

  • Youth may translate if the parent's first language is Spanish.
  • Males are typically the head of the household, especially in the older generation, and often answer all questions.
  • Ask: "May I speak to the head of the household?"
  • Wait outside, do not just walk-in.

What is your view / perception of law enforcement? What has been your community's experience with law enforcement?

  • Certain actions by police officers can be perceived as them being above the law instead of being enforcers of the law. Youth feel respect must be displayed by the officer at all times. For example, pulling over an individual for not wearing a seatbelt when the officer was not wearing one before the stop sends a wrong message. In addition, using sirens and flashing lights to speed through traffic lights; but then turning them off can be seen as no apparent emergency.
  • Youth in groups tend to defend each other. It matters how you address them in order to get compliance. Immigrant youth or adults may speak to an officer at the door or from a window because they feel uncertain of the officer’s intent.
  • Youth immigrants and youth with immigrant parents may be reluctant to trust officers because of fear due to past traumatic experiences with corrupt officers in their home countries.
  • Make eye contact; police officers should remove their sunglasses to appear less intimidating. Youth want to feel safe, be respected, positively acknowledged and made aware of the situation. If possible, ask to send the kids to another room when arresting a parent.
  • Youth behaviors such as pacing, fidgeting, and talking back are generally signs of distress from being in an uncomfortable situation. Youth may be venting their frustrations.