In an attempt to form a better relationship with its refugee-filled community, the police chief from Columbia Heights, Minnesota is participating in a “cop exchange” program with Somalia.
Chief Scott Nadeau of Columbia Heights will join Chief John Harrington of Minnesota’s Metro Transit, and a third chief to be named, for a trip to Somalia in July to teach the “local forces” there strategies and procedures in an attempt to help them provide better law and order. They will be there for 10 days.
Somalia has been plagued by a prolonged civil war since the 1990’s and is deemed by the United States as a very dangerous region plagued by terrorism and corruption.
Nadeau has high hopes for the visit. “To be immersed in Somali culture and to see dynamics at play, we will have a better understanding of what’s going on there and maybe how we can be more impactful,” he said.
In 2017, Columbia Heights formed a strategic plan to create a better relationship with ethnic residents, including increasing communication with 20 neighborhoods and boosting outreach. Nadeau hopes that these efforts will lead to an increase in reports of crime and a better rapport with teens and elders.
Reports reveal that juvenile arrests have decreased there from 250 in 2008 to 90 in 2016.
A representative at the Islamic Center of Minnesota, Kausar Hussain indicated that she’s aware a “newly-formed Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee that meets once a month in Columbia Heights”. She believes residents use the meetings to learn about American policing and laws while officers become aware of cultural norms. As an example, she states that a Muslim woman might need to find a hijab before answering the door, thereby delaying her response to an officer waiting there.
“We’re really confident all this work we are doing on the front end is helping us have a better outcome on the back end and helping to put fewer juveniles in the justice system that don’t need to be there,” Nadeau said.
Three Somalian officers will come to America in return. The State Department is footing the bill for the exchange.
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