OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Sergio and Ofelia Robles have been married for nearly 33 years. For the last 5 years, together, they’ve put an emphasis on community outreach through their work with first responders.
Sergio is a Public Education and Risk Reduction Specialist with the Omaha Fire Department. Ofelia is a Crime Prevention Specialist for the Omaha Police Department’s Southeast Precinct, a position she filled 25 years ago.
"In 1996, our title back then was actually under a grant for three years and our title was neighborhood organizer and our main focus was to start neighborhood watch groups and work with the community,” said Ofelia.
After the first three years, her position became full-time and she became one of OPD’s current crime prevention specialists.
"All the events that I do, all the events are supposed to be positive. It's an opportunity for the community to get close to the officers and have that one on one with the officers and that to me is huge because you need to do what we're doing here, get to know the person, and you can't do that at a traffic spot,” she added.
Ofelia’s work is fully bilingual, as OPD’s Southeast Precinct serves a predominantly Spanish-speaking community. Among her many responsibilities, she translates and interprets for the officers and creates informational materials in English and Spanish.
She also leads the planning of several large community events in South Omaha, including OPD’s Halloween and Christmas events which draw in thousands of people. She also works on the department’s Citizens Police Academy and SAFE event (Safety Awareness Fitness and Education).
Similarly, Sergio has a reputation for his community involvement. He hosts a show on a Spanish-speaking radio station called El Patron, which he uses often to raise awareness on community issues.
“I have a community service program on the radio station, and I used to interview people from the Omaha Fire Department and they saw a need to communicate and talk to the Spanish community about the risk reduction and about the fires that were happening in our community,” Sergio told 3 News Now. “After four major events happened in the Southeast community that we lost lives, the department wanted to go and talk to our people about fire safety. And they saw that OPD had great success in South Omaha with Ofelia so they wanted to try something similar.”
Sergio followed in his wife’s footsteps and applied for the position five years ago, which also started on a two-year grant.
Within a year, the department recognized Sergio’s work and the impact it was having on connecting OFD with the Spanish-speaking community. His position then became full-time.
“I’m very proud to work for them,” said Sergio.
Both OFD and OPD now have a cultural connection with South Omaha through the Robles couple. Ofelia focuses on positive police-community relations, while Sergio focuses on educating families on fire safety in Spanish, provides free smoke detectors, and is implementing a lot of the same programs and practices Ofelia does with OPD.
Together they created an Omaha city resource contact list, with the phone numbers of every department in the city, both in English and Spanish.
Although they work for different city departments, they work together on planning and creating different programs.
“We work very hard in South Omaha. We work with a lot of different agencies like OneWorld Community Health Center, Latino Center of the Midlands — anyone that could be a positive community ally,” said Sergio. “And we work hard but not for us, for the community. And by doing that, we put the Omaha Fire Department and Omaha Police Department working together.”
“We work hard to make each other better,” added Ofelia.
While sharing four kids and one grandchild together — and many similar interests like their culture, soccer and horses — they enjoy working together to unite two departments, all while helping their community move forward, while still honoring their favorite titles yet, husband and wife.
"I admire that he's very giving, and he cares a lot about the community. A lot, a lot,” said Ofelia.
"What I'm most proud of my wife is that she's a great mother, great daughter, great friend, and not only I can say it but she's been recognized by the mayor and governor of Nebraska and she's received an award for her work,” said Sergio. “And I can give her the award for great wife.”