Two local police officers recently took a trip to Mexico, but they spent most of their time in a classroom, not on the beach.
Cpls. Bryan Gonzales and Corey Wagner of the Craig Police Department were members of a special contingent of 22 law enforcement officers from across the country taking advanced training in the Spanish language.
"Both of us have basic Spanish-speaking abilities," Gonzales said. "This was a chance to brush up on our skills and learn more conversational Spanish."
They stayed with a host family in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Their weeklong stay included eight hours of classroom training each day, followed by conversational Spanish after class.
"We didn't speak English the entire trip," Wagner said. "By the time we left, we were thinking in Spanish."
Wagner and Gonzales are interpreters for the police department, and they are on call 24 hours a day when needed by law enforcement officials. They translate for Colorado State Patrol, Moffat County Sheriff's Office and the Craig Police Department, and they are called on almost every day to bridge the language barrier in the community.
The two officers requested the special training and funding was provided by a grant secured by the department.
The program was offered by an organization called Partners in Training of Tucson, Ariz., which provides the classroom sessions and matches officers with host families for the session.
"We had a great host family that had five children," Gonzales said. "That gave us a chance to practice talking with kids in Spanish after class."
Although the officers had basic Spanish and training in law enforcement terms, this total immersion session will help them deal with issues that arise during daily operations with the police department, Gonzales said.