St. Paul Police welcome diverse class of recruits, 1st Somali-born officer
The St. Paul Police Department graduated another class of recruits on Thursday night, and one of the officers is already making history.
The department swore in its first Somali-born officer, and several members of the Somali community showed up to cheer on Officer Garaad Sahal.
"I want to step up. I want to be the leader," Sahal said. "You know, I want to help out the community as well as the department I work for."
Sahal is one of 22 officers who received a badge tonight, and it was an extremely diverse class of graduates who attended their ceremony tonight. Nearly a quarter of the new officers are bilingual, speaking Spanish, Hmong, Russian and Somali.
"I feel I can aid the department by being able to communicate with the rest of the Russian population," said Ilya Tereshko. "Making those connections, building that bridge, and try to assist in any way I can."
A St. Paul police spokesman told FOX 9 News the department always takes a serious look at diversity and the community's needs when recruiting new officers because it helps them break cultural barriers and gives the department a better understanding of what that community is going through.
Police say the officers who are able to speak other languages can also provide insight into what crime is like in other countries and what trends could move into the Twin Cities.
The officers who graduated on Thursday will now hit the streets with veteran cops for on-the-job training.