ROSA ROLDÁN-TORRES, 40, D.C. police officer

(Alfredo Duarte Pereira)
Friday, September 28, 2007

"The beautiful thing about being a Hispanic in the Washington area is that we are part of a global community. Only here, you get a chance to work with people from all sorts of backgrounds. And you learn to understand people's needs -- and their cultures and lifestyles."

She is known as the mujer boricua (Puerto Rican woman) of the D.C. police department's Latino Liaison Unit. Working at various levels within the department for 17 years, Rosa Roldán-Torres has become a popular voice for the Hispanic community. She attends festivals and community meetings, visits schools and appears on radio shows. She talks about ways to avoid crime and emphasizes the need that she says exists in the Hispanic community to trust the police.

"People come to our office or call us with all different types of problems," she says in Spanish. "And I am happy to be able to help them in their own language, but what I want is for them to trust me and the system."

Roldán-Torres has seen the area change. "Now there are a lot more Hispanics than 20 years ago. The community is so diverse now that every day I learn something new."

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