Community is focus of police discussion

Sgt. Tino Banuelos

Sgt. Tino Banuelos

INDEPENDENCE — Sgt. Tino Banuelos led a discussion about the state of policing in the U.S., but more specifically, in Independence.

About 20 people sat in on an open discussion format at Friday’s Latino Roundtable, a monthly gathering to discuss topics of importance to Independence’s mixed community.

Banuelos said with so many police incidents, particularly the race-fueled shootings in places like Ferguson, Mo., and most recently in Pasco, Wash., the Independence Police Department wanted to open communication with its community.

“We would like input from different perspectives,” he said. “We want to regularly engage the community that we serve. With current events across the nation, it’s more important than ever.”

Some of the things Banuelos said he would like to cover at future forums include why the police functions the way it does and why officers respond in certain ways.

Independence PD tries to mirror its community, he noted.

“Of our 13 officers, including administration, three are of Latino descent,” Banuelos said. “Five are bilingual.”

The department is still not 35 percent Hispanic, which would be a true representation of the Latino community in Independence, but it’s getting there, Banuelos said.

“We want to stay on top of this,” he said. “In this line of work, part of what we want to do is educate the public on why we respond in certain ways. There’s a lot of gray area in the decision-making that we have to make.”

In addition to future forums with the Latino community, Banuelos said the police department has goals including meeting with high school students to get their perspective on police and community; putting together a citizen’s police academy; growing the cadet program; and recruiting more citizen volunteers.

“We’re not just a uniform; we’re not just a badge,” he said. “We’re human beings who have families and care about our communities.”

For more information: Sgt. Tino Banuelos, 503-838-1214; or via email to

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