RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - From a simple interaction, it’s easy to tell community policing motivates Officer Kenia Marte.
“In this position, just by me telling them my story, they can picture themselves," she said.
Stepping into a new leadership role within the Richmond Police Department, and continuing a legacy of building trust within an ever-growing Hispanic community in Richmond, Officer Marte is hoping her own experiences can help bridge the gap in all of her daily interactions.
“A lot of people identify with my position, I came to the U.S. 7 years ago with no English,” she said. “I went to Huguenot high school and I had a mentor who supported me a lot and encouraged me to go to college.”
As a teenager, Officer Marte left the Dominican Republic, and moved to Richmond with her twin brother and older brother, to live with their father, their mother eventually came to the U.S. as well.
“It was rough it was really tough,” she said. “Family is what keeps you motivated and keeps you going.”
Officer Marte says it is also thanks to a security guard at Hugeunot, that she was shown the impact those committed to protect and serve the community can make. She says the security guard would always speak highly of officers, helping Officer Marte see the impact she could one day make.
After working to put herself through school, Officer Marte earned her associates degree, and entered the Richmond Police Department Academy. She began her career working on patrol in the 2nd precinct, building strong relationships within the Hispanic community.
“Some of the Hispanic citizens feel they can’t trust the police because of experiences in their country, but we are breaking the wall," she said. “They know ‘Hey I know this officer she is Latino like I am - I am going to reach out and she is going to be able to help me’.”
Officer Marte says one of the hardest parts of the job can be seeing the poverty many families in the communities she spends the most time in face, but it continues to remind her why her job is important.
“They are hard workers, and here to achieve the American dream,” she said.
Whether it be through crime prevention academies, community meetings, safety seminars, or assisting with interpretations for officers and detectives during investigations, she will spend a majority of her days working to build trust and break down barriers between citizens and police.
“I just feel blessed, I can’t say anything else,” said Officer Marte.