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Dona Ana Sheriff’s deputies prepare to communicate with Afghan refugees

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- As Afghan refugees have now arrived in New Mexico, the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office is preparing for communication. 

According to Dona Ana County Sheriff Kim Stewart, to date there have been no encounters between her deputies and Afghan refugees. 

But Stewart is preparing her deputies for what those encounters with the refugees may look like. 

One challenge that they are quickly addressing is the communication barrier between both parties. 

Since most refugees speak other dialects, Stewart is trying her best to equip her deputies.

She is accomplishing the complex task by creating a series of cards with multiple phrases on them to help ease communication between both parties.

“We put out basic cards if our southern units did contact someone from Afghanistan.”

Those cards are filled with both basic words and advanced police commands in Farsi. 

Sheriff Stewart also added that she is working on an app that would alleviate the challenge even further.

“So the next step for me is getting a phone app where if we encounter, then we could actually talk with them through a phone app with our deputies,” Steward said. 

Additionally, Stewart also wants her deputies to be further educated on Afghan culture. 

“Let’s get some experts on Afghanistan and Afghan culture. I am going to bring them into the department first to talk to our people. It's a very different culture, a very different religion, the language is not even close to what we may be familiar with,” said Stewart.

Stewart said that as time goes on she would also like to help educate the community, adding that this will require political leadership. 

Stewart indicated that she wants the community to have a sense of the Afghan culture, so that they can better bridge the gap.

Rosemary Montanez

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