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Spanish for Law Enforcement Personnel

Spanish for Law Enforcement Personnel
Author/Publisher: William C. Harvey M.S
Emphasis: Spanish CD
List Price: $14.99

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description
This book was designed to help English-speaking police officers, court officers, public safety workers, parole officers, and other law-related personnel who work among Hispanics but who have little or no command of spoken Spanish. It will also prove helpful to firefighters, and social workers whose duties take them into Spanish-speaking communities. Rather than concentrating on rules of grammar and memorization of verb forms and other such details, the author concentrates on useful vocabulary and phrases for making oneself understood in Spanish, and for understanding others when dealing with accidents and accident reports, crime investigations, public gatherings, court and legal procedures, and other aspects of law enforcement and public safety. The book contains dialogues that simulate such scenes.

From the Inside Flap
(back cover)
This book will help you make yourself understood to Hispanics who have little or no command of English—and will also help you understand what they are saying to you. You’ll find vocabulary and phrases for making yourself understood in Spanish, and for understanding others when you are dealing with accidents and accident reports, crime investigations, public gatherings, court and legal procedures, and other aspects of law enforcement and public safety. The book presents Spanish and English dialogues, simulating scenes like those you encounter in your official capacity. Extra pronunciation tips will help you make yourself understood.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Barron's Educational Series; 2 edition (December 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764137514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764137518
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 7.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review:

    2.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars - Buy it if you're in law enforcement
I can't wait for the new edition to come out in January -- IT'S COMING WITH 2 AUDIO CD's. My copy is completely worn out, and it's loaned out to other guys in the department all the time. As a trainer, I need to know Spanish words that relate to several different departments. This is the ONLY COMPLETE book out there. I think the City is thinking about buying one for everyone on the force.


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars - Decent book....
I disagree with many of the harsher reviews. I am a police officer , not a medical student or lawyer and this is a pretty decent book. Just realize what you're getting. It's a book for an officer to learn basic commands. It will also teach you how to get the general idea of a call until you can get a real translator on scene. No, you are not going to become conversational with this book. But you will be able to learn the commands that will keep you, suspects and bystanders safe. That's the main focus of the book: commands. The others are right, it barely mentions verb conjugation (one of the most important parts of the language.) But! (big "but" here) That's not the intent of the book. For the average patrolman, it's a wealth of knowledge. It's a starting point with things you can use RIGHT NOW. To become conversational, you are going to have to continue your education. I also wouldn't interrogate a suspect with just knowlege from this book. Think: Officer saftey, traffic stops, DUI's, Domestics and report calls. That's the jist of this book. I recommend it.


Rating: 1 out of 5 stars - Horrible book
I agree with Mr. Picapiedra statments: stay away from this book, it'll make you sound stupid.
Now I'm really worried about the justice system in the States as a former reviewer, David Levine says: "I am beginning to break into conversations, in Spanish, between clients and the court appointed interpreter. I am developing the ability to explain to my clients (albeit simplistically) what is going on in court"
MY GOD !!! I really pity Mr. Levine's clients.

In a later review Mr. Davidson states he is a Police Officer, and says the book is very good. On the other hand he admits he can't speak spanish.

Well, I'm not a police officer, BUT (big *but* here Mr Davidson) spanish is my native language. The book is horrible becouse it has gross *errors*.

It's a good idea to write a manual for police officers, but it's a *bad* idea to have errors in it.


Rating: 3 out of 5 stars - Good for some beginners, but...
I work in law enforcement and have a BA in Spanish. Some people will find this to be a very useful book, but I found it to be too much of what I already know (general-purpose vocabulary and phrases) and not enough of what I don't (more advanced unique terms and expressions an officer would use at work).

Be advised that this book is NOT designed to teach Spanish grammar to the complete newcomer. It does not even discuss grammar, so if you have never studied Spanish, you'll need to look elsewhere first to learn to conjugate verbs, etc. This book has many examples of useful phrases, but it also contains many long vocabulary lists which--for the beginner--offer little to no guidance on how to use them in a gramatically-correct sentence.

I found this book to be a bit too broad in it's approach to teaching Spanish for a specific field of interest ("law enforcement"). I would have preferred it if the author would have assumed that the reader already had a functional vocabulary and was just looking for the unique terms and expressions used in police work. As it is, you have to sift through a lot of general-purpose vocabulary and phrases to get to the meat--the unique terms and expressions you need as a cop but wouldn't have learned in Spanish 101, or even Spanish 301. If you're a beginning student of Spanish and already know the basics of grammar, you may appreciate the lists of basic words and phrases.

Where the book does cover a topic of importance to me, I found it did not go into enough detail. For example, there is a section on DUI's, but the phrases it offers are only of a very general nature and do not convey all of the instructions an officer would need to process a DUI. With all due respect to the author, it is apparent from what is missing from this book that he does not work in law enforcement and lacks an indepth understanding of the type of information that a police officer would want to convey and obtain. Phrases like, "You're in violation of a no-contact order," or, "If you don't go to court, the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest," should be included in a 410 page book for law enforcement but I can't find any indication here how to convey those ideas.

Much of my work with Spanish-speaking individuals involves gangs, but this book never directly addresses gangs and the associated terms that go with them ("brincar" means "to jump in," for example). Also, there is no mention of Spanish slang or swear words in this book. Slang is a subject in itself, but every Spanish book for law enforcement should contain at least a list of slang terms that relate to officer-safety ("cuete" means "gun," for example).

This book could also benefit from a good index since the table of contents is extremely basic. Finding info on a particular topic takes some searching.

In fairness to the author, I must address a previous reviewer's implication that the book uses nonstandard Spanish. On page 210 under "The Raid" it correctly lists "This is the police" as "Somos la policia," and on page 8 under "What's your name?" it says that the proper way to answer someone asking your name is to say, "Soy..." for "I'm..." However, the book's cover does indeed contain the error the reviewer mentioned.

Despite the above citicisms, this book is certainly not without its merits. Every single Spanish word has an accompanying phonetic spelling as a pronunciation guide, which beginners may find very helpful. And although the treatment of some subjects is more superficial than I would have liked, a broad range of subjects are discussed. If you knew everything in this book, you would at least be able to get by in most law-enforcement situations. But if you're looking for something with a more complete listing of advanced terms and phrases (more "meat"), a much better alternative is Living Language's Essential Spanish for Law Enforcement.



Rating: 1 out of 5 stars - DON'T BUY THIS BOOK
I'm spanish, and I tell you I hope I could give 0 stars. I don't know how this guy was allowed to write this book without knowing spanish. Just look at the cover, you can read "Esta es la policia" meaning "this is the police", well, a spanish speaking person would NEVER say that. Correct form: "Somos la policia" or even if questioned who it is "¿Quien es?" you should just say "La policia". Same thing applies when making a phone call, we NEVER say "Esto es Pedro, quisiera hablar con Maria", instead we say "Soy pedro, quisiera hablar con María" --> Translated (This is Pedro, may I talk to Maria). Inside the book, things are even worse. If you use this book you will sound quite stupid to a spanish speaking audience, avoid it.


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars - First rate primer in conversational Spanish
As an attorney whose practice is concentrated in criminal defense, I have been studying Spanish via a Berlitz cassette course (which I also highly recommend) as well as with several books and manuals. This is the best self study book I have used so far. The book is set out so you can systematically learn basic Spanish or, you can readily find the proper phrases for a specific situation. Although designed for police, parole officers, court personnel, etc., I have found this book extremely useful in my practice. Indeed, I am beginning to break into conversations, in Spanish, between clients and the court appointed interpreter. I am developing the ability to explain to my clients (albeit simplistically) what is going on in court. I can even carry on a simple phone conversation and get something worthwhile accomplished in the conversation. The book both teaches how to speak Spanish and provides quick phrases for various situations. This book is my bible.


Rating: 3 out of 5 stars - Important.
A book with thousands of phrases and words that help even the native speaker. Covers Miranda warnings, high stress situations, speaking about crimes, finding out what happened, and other necessary conversations in a an unknown environment. Everything from citizenship to "?Cuantos cervezas?". Lacking in street slang, and verb forms, however.


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