NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- The North Charleston Police Department is working to build a better relationship between the community and law enforcement, specifically the Hispanic community.
They’ve hired a new position to do just that.
In just three months holding the position of community liaison, William Leon says he’s seen a significant difference in how the Hispanic community in North Charleston relates to the police.
Living in Panama for 17 years, Leon witnessed corruption in law enforcement firsthand.
“It was full on dictatorship,” Leon said.
He moved back to the United States in his 20’s and since then, has dedicated his life to trustworthy policing.
That’s what brought him to North Charleston, three months ago.
“When I heard about the position, and I heard what it entailed, it really got to me. I said this is the opportunity to make a huge change for the good,” Leon said.
The North Charleston Police Department brought Leon in to be their first ever community liaison.
“You are that link in between the police department and the communities,” Leon said.
He specifically focuses on the Hispanic communities in North Charleston.
He says crimes against Hispanics have skyrocketed in the past year, especially robberies.
“Their migration status is not favorable, so therefore they decide to not open bank accounts, carrying large amounts of cash,” Leon said.
A large majority of Hispanic immigrants have a fear of law enforcement, based on their experience in other countries.
“These people that come in from other countries, they left for a reason, corruption, abuse,” Leon said.
Leon says many undocumented immigrants also fear that they will be deported if they report crimes committed against them.
So he says it’s his main goal to ease the tensions the Hispanic community feels towards police, and make them aware of their rights.
He says in the time he’s been here he’s seen crime decrease and better relationships develop.
Leon said, “So I have the ability to explain to people why some things happen. To me, that’s rewarding.”
Leon’s work is so vital to the community.
He is hosting an event on October 21, where he’s partnering with banks across the area to help the people in the Hispanic community set one up.