Editor’s note: During Hispanic Heritage Month, the Evanston RoundTable is profiling some of the many Latinx men and women who work in and for the city.
Ever since he was a child, Cesar Galindo wanted to be a police officer. He never lost sight of that goal. Four years ago, he joined the Evanston Police Department, where he specializes in community policing as the liaison between the department and the Latinx community, working primarily in the Second, Fifth and Eighth Wards.
Galindo grew up in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood and graduated from the Rickover Naval Academy in Chicago, a military school that emphasizes “academic excellence, trust and student leadership,” according to its website. He graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in justice studies.
His first job after graduation was with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, where he worked for two years as a correctional officer. He returned to Northeastern as a university police officer and was recruited to join Evanston’s police force in 2018.
Galindo loves what he does. Recently he got more involved with the FAAM (Fellowship of Afro-American Men) basketball league, coaching a team of middle school boys and girls who are 11-14 years old. This year he also volunteered at a Books and Breakfast event, where students can get food and tutoring help from mentors before school. “I don’t have any kids,” he said, “but it was a great experience.”
His work in the community extends to Evanston Township High School. Mercedes Fernandez, ETHS Latino Liaison and Minority Language Coordinator, said in an email that she’s “very grateful to Officer Cesar Galindo for being so kind to our Latino parents, particularly to our ETHS Latino Advisory Committee’s parents.”
“He’s been participating in our meetings as a guest speaker to inform parents about his role as an EPD Latino Liaison,” Fernandez said. “He answers questions about the police system in this country and responds to parents’ phone calls on various topics.”
Galindo grew up in a fully bilingual home and is generally able to communicate with Spanish speakers regardless of their country of origin or dialect. And if they get stuck on a particular word, there is always Google Translate to help out. He has traveled widely, both domestically and internationally, and enjoys meeting people from all over the world.
He said one of the most rewarding parts of his job is being able to reassure Spanish speakers who are victims of crimes but are afraid to approach law enforcement officers and file police reports.
“I come from an immigrant family,” Galindo said. “My mom immigrated here. So definitely, as a kid, I will say our culture, we were told, ‘Hey, try to do the least possible to attract police attention.’ So you know, this is the way I grew up.”
A few years ago, some in the Latinx community “did not understand what the departments do or the processes … also during the time, ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] was a hot topic,” Galindo said. “It was surprising how many people were basically waiting to speak with somebody to speak Spanish. Because they felt comfortable, right. It’s a tough situation.”
The Police Department has several other Spanish-language speakers who can provide translation services if needed. And Galindo is assisted in his liaison work by two other Latinx officers.
Commander Ryan Glew confirmed that as a sanctuary city, Evanston does not take into account immigration status when it comes to victims of crimes.
“We make it very clear, however people get into this country, once you’re here, it’s our duty to take care of them and provide police services,” Glew said. “They should have complete confidence that if they are being victimized or the victim of crime, they call the police regardless of immigration status.”
Galindo described the Latinx people he has met as “a great community … very hard-working, with love and passion.” He reassures the people he interacts with that Evanston is “at the forefront” of policing work and they should have an open mind when it comes to interacting with the police here. He enjoys what he does and says he’s proud to represent Evanston.
Fernandez described Galindo in this way: “He is a very approachable, kind, humble, professional human being, and is very well respected in our community. We are glad that the EPD decided to open up his position and to have Officer Galindo serving our community.”