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Spanish American Law Enforcement Association



In the year of 1966 the Philadelphia Police Department hired its first Latino officers who became part of Class #180, Joe Martinez and Ramon "Speedy" Vargas. Slowly others began to follow, Class of #181 Nelson Rodriguez. Then the department decided to offer the entry exam in Spanish, opening the doors for more to join. Class of #182 Jack Plaza, Carlos Pablos, Luis Matos, Santos Rivera, Juan Delgado, Carlos Rivera, Raul Quinones, Luis Melendez and Ruperto Figueroa just to name a few.

By September 1969 the Philadelphia Police Department had 25 Latino officers, it was that same year the department decided in preparations for that year's annual Puerto Rican Parade, ordered their Latino officers to practice marching and drilling for their participation in the upcoming parade.  After a full week of mandatory practice sessions held at the police administration building parking lot, 20 of those 25 Latino officers decided to meet at one of the officer's homes, Officer Mike Deyne who lived nearby in the 26th district. There they discussed forming an association of Hispanic police officers.

This became the first official meeting of the new origination known then as SAPA, The “Spanish American Police Association.” Bylaws were then later written, a logo was designed in honor of its founding members who with the exception of one, were of Puerto Rican heritage. The logo included the U.S and Puerto Rico flag and a lamb which is a symbol of sacrifice which is featured in the Seal of the Puerto Rico flag. The logo was unanimously voted on and approve by its general membership and the name of the organization was registered in the Commonwealth of PA.

In 1983, SAPA’s members felt that the name of the organization was limiting its efforts to grow and to recruit outside the Philadelphia Police Department, Hence the name was changed to (SALEA) the “Spanish American Law Enforcement Association” Members felt with the new name, it would help attract a more diverse membership. At the time of the name change there were approximately 150 officers. Now year to-date, there are over 600 Latino Police officers in the Philadelphia Police Department.


To assist and unit Latino officers in developing their law enforcement professional careers, building relationships within our now, very diverse membership with the community we serve. Areas of involvement are programs such as donations of Thanksgiving food baskets, Three Kings festivities, College scholarships awards, Mentoring programs in our local schools, adopt-a-school program, neighborhood cleanups and so much more.

Board Members

Dedication. Expertise. Passion.

I would like to introduce you to your, New Board Members of 2024 

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