MN Police Chiefs Headed to Somalia On Officer Exchange Program

April 03, 2017 11:03 PM

Three Minnesota police chiefs are headed to Somalia this summer as part of a so-called officer exchange program with that country.

Chief Scott Nadeau of Columbia Heights will join Chief John Harrington of Metro Transit and a third chief on the journey this July.


They will teach the importance of investigative procedures and law and order strategies to local forces emerging from a prolonged civil war.

"To be immersed in Somali culture 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," Nadeau said.

Nadeau has good experience overseeing 27 Columbia Heights officers in a diverse city aiming to improve relationships between police and immigrant and minority communities.

Kausar Hussain is involved in the Islamic Center of Minnesota, and said she's aware of the newly-formed Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee that meets once a month in Columbia Heights. She says it's a place where residents can learn about American policing and laws. At the same time, officers become aware of cultural norms, like a Muslim woman possibly being delayed when answering a door because she requires time to find a hijab. 

The city put together a strategic plan for 2017 to increase cultural understanding, improve relationships and enhance communication with ethnic residents. It calls for increasing communication with 20 neighborhoods, increasing neighborhood watch minority block leaders to 10, expanding cultural competency training, and boosting outreach events to five per year. 

Nadeau believes that increasing dialogue with teens and elders will make them feel comfortable reporting a crime if one occurs. The approach appears to have made a difference. The number of juvenile arrests is down from 250 in 2008 to 90 in 2016.

"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.


Beth McDonough

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