Seven Prince George's County police officers of Haitian descent have a new assignment.
They're giving up patrol duty and assignments as investigators to take on the task of raising public awareness about the dire circumstances created by the earthquake in Haiti, the Washington Post reported.
"It's unimaginable how bad it is down there," said Cpl. Conrad D’Haiti, one member of the new seven-member unit.
Police hope to send the seven to Haiti in early March to join relief efforts. Meanwhile, for the next few months, they'll be here knocking on doors, passing out fliers and collecting donations to help quake victims.
The unit, which will fall under the county police department's Community Services Division, was Police Chief Roberto Hylton's idea. Five members of the unit appeared at a news conference Thursday. While they knew each other before the quake, the disaster has drawn them closer together. They're also trying to locate relatives in the quake zone.
Officer Diderot Alerte, who lived in Haiti for 12 years, said an aunt suffered a broken leg and that other relatives have had to carry her from place to place.
"Basically, everyone's homeless and moving around," said Alerte. "I can't get over there to help her. That's why we’re out here to help."