St. Paul hires first Somali police officer - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

St. Paul hires first Somali police officer


ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- St. Paul's first Somali police officer says he wants to bridge the gap between his community and police.

Garaad Sahal will graduate from the police academy Thursday. Sahal says that in Somalia and Kenya, police officers are often feared. So, he wants to make sure Somali people living in St. Paul know it's different in America.

St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith tells the St. Paul Pioneer Press ( ) that it's important for citizens to see officers that represent their community or their ethnic background. Seventeen percent of the 22 recruits about to graduate are minorities. Eight speak a second language.

Sahal says he and his family fled the civil war in Somalia in 1994 and lived in a refugee camp in Kenya before he came to Minnesota in 2001.

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