Friday, December 19, 2008

Asian American cops needed in SoCal

Although Census Bureau's statistics show that the Asian American population grows the fastest of all ethnic communities in Southern California, Asians have nowhere near enough policemen from their own community, to serve them. The China Press reports that, according to Census numbers, in the cities of Walnut and Diamond Bar, where Asian Americans comprise more than half the population, and most Asians are Chinese, there are only two policemen able to speak Chinese. This makes it difficult for new immigrants without English to communicate with the police. Joaquin Lim, mayor of Walnut City, and from the Chinese community, said that for his community, being a cop is seen as a dangerous, not very good job. And that's a tough notion to change quickly. Police officer Alan Liu said that in Asia, police work is often associated with corruption and violence. When he joined the force nine years ago, his parents were totally against it, but now they no longer think it's a bad occupation.

The Walnut police department is trying to get its percentage of Asian deputies on par with the county's overall population, Nguyen said, but another challenge is many Asians prefer not to be in situations where they have to be aggressive.

"A lot of them have a problem with that," he said. "When I went through (the academy) I wasn't used to it either. We're more reserved people."

But it is imperative to have enough Asian law enforcement officers on patrol, Liu said, because it can be easier for immigrants to trust police when there is an Asian officer or deputy present.

"When I show up, they start opening up when normally they would be afraid to say something," he said. "It's just easier on everybody."

Originally published in China Press and Whittier Daily News, 12/16/08
LAPD recruitment flyer from KoreAm magazine