Latino mother's inability to speak English caused difficulties when filing order of protection

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis mother who is originally from Mexico said filing an order of protection was an exhausting process.

She said the stack of documents was not the problem, it was that it took hours for someone who spoke Spanish to help her.

That’s when she turned to FOX13’s Alexa Lorenzo for help. Lorenzo acted as the woman’s translator as she spent an entire day trying to speak with Memphis police.

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Powerless. That’s how this victim of domestic violence told FOX13 she felt while trying to file an order of protection.

She said it was a struggle and she started blaming herself because she only speaks English.

The woman spent two days trying to fill out paper work at the Shelby County Crime Victims Rape Crisis Center.

She said she spent every minute on her phone using a translating site.

After about two hours, an employee who spoke Spanish finally helped her. She gave the woman her documents to fill out but told her she needed to file a police report for a domestic violence situation.

The woman said the assault happened in November 2018.

According to her, she didn’t file a police report because she was scared of the man she said hurt her and embarrassed because she could not speak English to the officers who have responded.

So, that employee told her to go to the Records division at Memphis Police headquarters to file the report.

There was another language barrier, but she was able to find out after nearly an hour, they do not do that there.

Then, the woman ran into Lorenzo, asked if she spoke Spanish and started explaining her situation.
Lorenzo immediately started making phone calls.

Not one precinct had a Spanish-speaking officer in house, so the non-emergency dispatch sent two officers to FOX13 in downtown.

Even after Lorenzo asked for a Spanish-speaking officer to meet her and the woman, MPD sent two officers who only spoke English.

The woman said she knows she should speak English and she is working on it but finds it frustrating that it took so long to get to this point.

A Spanish-speaking female officer came and helped the woman file the report.

She said this experience makes it obvious that Shelby County Government and city employees need to hire more Spanish-speaking employees.

Lorenzo reached out to the Memphis Police Department regarding the shortage of Spanish-speaking officers and have not heard back.

FOX13 found out MPD has more than 2,100 officers this year, but only 50 are Hispanic.