An order from Ventura County Sheriff Larry Carpenter instructing Sheriff's Department personnel to refer to Latino suspects and victims as Hispanics rather than Mexicans has sparked criticism from some Latino county residents.
The order, issued last week on the recommendation of the department's Minority Relations Committee, requested that deputies and other staff members stop describing all Latinos as Mexicans over police radios.
Many Latinos say the term ignores their Indian heritage. "It's demeaning," said Roberta Payan, coordinator for the city of Ventura's Youth at Risk and gang intervention programs. "As far as I'm concerned, the term Hispanic is something the U.S. Census Bureau came up with to lump us all together."
Carpenter said the criticism was expected. "We need to have a policy that is as descriptive as possible . . . Deputies on the scene don't have time to wrangle over semantics."