AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807

December 14, 2018

Branson Reaches Out to Latinxs Residents with
Help from University of Missouri Extension

KANAS CITY, Mo. — Over the past few years, Branson has seen rapid growth in its Latinx population and businesses.

Dr. Stephen Jeanetta, Director of the University of Missouri's Cambio Center, aware of this increase, started a dialogue between community leaders to identify and implement ways to help integrate the Latinx into Branson's community.

Consequently, one community leader, Branson's Chief of Police, Stanley Dobbins, committed to reaching out to local Latinx residents to get to know them and find ways to serve them more effectively.

As a first step, the Branson Police Department (BPD) worked with Alianzas and local organizations to coordinate the community's first resources fair, Mi Casa es su Casa ("My home is your home") in 2016, with the goal of reaching out to Latinx families.

In surveys administered during the fair, about 85 percent of Latinx families expressed mistrust of the police. Overall anxiety was high due to uncertainty surrounding national discussion about immigration laws.

The uneasiness in the community led to a dialogue between Latinx residents and the Branson Police Department. Alianzas served as an interpreter and liaison between the Branson police and Branson's Latinx residents according to Gerardo Martinez, coordinator for Alianzas since 2014.

"More than 200 individuals attended a meeting which was the genesis of greater cooperation and a sense of emerging trust between the residents and the Branson Police Department," said Martinez. "At the same time, MU Law Enforcement Training Institute (LETI), Alianzas, and the Branson Police Department began working together to provide training opportunities for Branson police officers on understanding cultural differences."

At this time, more than 25 Branson police officers have received training and increased their intercultural communication skills, giving them greater confidence when serving the local Latinx community.

At the end of last year, the Branson Chamber of Commerce embraced the work done through Mi Casa es su Casa by creating the Hispanic Workforce Coalition, whose purpose is to identify and provide community resources to Latinx residents of Taney County and its surrounding areas.

MU Extension 4-H, Alianzas, and BPD are members of the coalition's committee to address the needs and specific concerns of the Branson Latinx residents.

Last April, Stan Dobbins became Branson's new City Administrator and Jeffrey Matthews of Arlington, Texas was appointed the new Chief of Police. Matthews is excited to serve the diverse Branson community. His background and multi-ethnic experiences are serving as great catalyst for cultural diversity in Branson. Great things lie ahead for this growing Missouri city!

Since 2001, Alianzas and MU Extension have worked together to serve the increasing Latino population in Missouri. Available resources assist families in many areas such as gardening, family issues and small business management.

Alianzas makes extension's information accessible in Spanish and communicates about outreach programs such as 4-H programs for Latino children, bi-national health week efforts, English as a second language classes and more.

More information is available online at

Source: Gerardo R. Martinez, (816) 235-1768

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