GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — As we're continuing to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and the positive strides made by Latinos across Northeast Wisconsin, we introduce you to a Green Bay Police Officer who has shared his unique journey with the department.
Meet Arturo Santos-Martinez:
The officer who started with the Green Bay Police Department about five years ago goes to work every day ready to protect and serve the community.
"For me this is what I always wanted to do and I'm blessed about helping others," said Santos-Maritnez.
Proudly wearing his badge, the officer reflects on the journey that brought him to where he's at today.
"I was born and raised in a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico called San Sebastian Nicananduto. I lived there for half of my entire life. I was a normal kid as everyone else just going to school. I like to take care of my goats and just play with friends in general," he said.
But when he was 13-years-old, his life quickly changed.
His father found a better opportunity in America, so his family packed their bags and immigrated to the United States.
"He chose Green Bay, he started working at a meat factory and he thought that Green Bay was a good city and a good place for us to meet so my mother came up next, and then we did," Santos-Martinez explains.
A new beginning for his family in hopes of achieving the American dream.
For Santos-Martinez that meant pursuing his goal of becoming a police officer.
"My father always told me that officers are always great resources for people in the community and they taught me how to respect them," Santos-Martinez said.
But the officer said it wasn't easy. He had to keep trying as it took him not only once but three different tries to make it as an officer for the Green Bay Police Department.
"I was told the third time is the charm and yup, it was,” he said.
Aside from being one of a few Latino officers in the department, Santos-Martinez is also a part of the nearly 16% of Latinos that make up Green Bay's population according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Something he says lends to his work for the community.
“I have come across people who only speak Spanish and I’ve been able to communicate with them. Sometimes I kinda just see their faces smile and most of the time when that happens the driver or person you are making contact say it out aloud 'Thank god to you that you speak Spanish, I was afraid that I would not understand that the officer who was coming over,'” said Santos-Martinez.
And as he puts on his badge every day, grateful for the sacrifices made by his parents, he can only hope his work will inspire others, including his younger siblings.
“Again, you gotta work hard no matter how many times you fail a test or interview. Just keep trying, keep trying, keep trying, and thus the hard work is going to pay off," Santos-Martinez said.
Over the years as the number of Latinos in Green Bay has continued to grow, the police department has gone to great lengths in making sure every part of our community is served.
The department has even created a Facebook page in Spanish. That page is named Departamento de Policía de Green Bay.
On that Facebook page, they translate press releases, post videos in Spanish, and much more.
All of this is in an effort to make sure anyone is able to receive timely information. That woman behind the Facebook page is Natalia Sidon.
She runs the page serving as the department’s translator. Sidon monitors the page every single day, responding to messages and concerns from the Spanish-speaking public as well.
Here she is being honored for Hispanic Heritage Month as well:
"We used that a lot during COVID, people trusted us and we were able to disseminate a lot of information through our Spanish Facebook page for the Hispanic community so that they could get the information, that they know what was going on," said Green Bay Police Commander Kevin Warych.
Warych who has been with the department for nearly 20 years says he has seen a lot of positive changes throughout his time.
The Department says community partnerships with organizations such as Casa Alba Melanie, Voces de la Fontera, and area churches have also played a key role in establishing strong relationships with the Hispanic community.