With the end goal of improving citizen security and tourist services in this colonial city by the lake, 24 officers of the National Police force of Granada are beginning 40 weeks of English classes at the GranadaEnglishCollege, facing XaltevaPark.
Thanks to $8,000 in funding provided by the British Embassy, the police officers will take two hours of English classes every day, with a special focus on conversational and situational skills.
The English program for police officers started last year on a 12-week trial basis, giving beginner classes to 20 tourist cops. That course, though truncated, provided basic “conversation skills and confidence” to 20 officers, according to language school owner Tomás Banks, of the United States.
“Now we have 16 of the best students back from last year, and with 40 weeks of classes they’ll be able to get up to a lower-intermediate level,” Banks said. “We also have 8 new beginners.”
One of the Tourist Police officers who graduated from last year’s class and is now back for more said the opportunity to learn English has helped give him tools to speak to tourists. “Before, when tourists asked for directions, I had to use hand signals,” he said. “But now I can answer them and say a few things.”
For Commissioner José Luis Cárcamo, second in command of the National Police force of Granada, the English classes help provide essential new job skills in a city that is changing rapidly, fueled by foreign tourism.
“Everywhere you go in Granada, even in the rural municipalities, you find tourists now, so we as police have to prepare ourselves for modern times,” Cárcamo told The Nica Times. “The idea is that we are all tourist police now and most of us should learn English, if not all of us.”
Cárcamo said that among the 24 officers participating in the English classes are the heads of various police units, including juvenal affairs, internal affairs, inspectors, police training and transit police.
“We want the heads of each sector to learn English,” he said. “We want the tourist community to be satisfied with the services we provide.”
Cárcamo says that cops realize they play an important role in fostering and protecting tourism in Granada, which in turn helps boost the economy.
“They say that tourism is a business without smokestacks – it generates enormous income for the country,” Cárcamo said. “So we have to give a good image of security, and resolve problems, not just when people are robbed, but when they need directions, suggestions or advice about safety.”