December 20, 2018 05:50 PM
The Metro Transit Police Department added 16 officers to its ranks Thursday, swearing in the 2018 cadet class.
Chief John Harrington gave the recruits the oath and pinned the majority of their badges during a ceremony held at St. Mary's University in Minneapolis.
Harrington, who has made it his mission as chief to grow diversity in the department, said this class is just a snapshot of the work that's been accomplished.
"In order to be a department that's responsive to the community, you have to be able to listen and understand what the community wants," Harrington said. "It's hard to do that if you don't speak their language, and it's hard to do that if you don't look like them."
More from KSTP
Harrington said diversity in the department has jumped from five percent in 2012 to nearly 50 percent in 2018.
"We've had great success bring in women, Asians, people of color," Harrington said, but added 50 percent is just a starting point.
The new officers sworn in Thursday will add to the diversity in the Metro Transit Police Department which, as illustrated below, has improved dramatically in recent years.
Included in the 2018 class are immigrants, women and military veterans.
Soonem Teng, who grew up in Cambodia, said he lived through violence and instability in his home village.
"When I was a kid, I wondered why wasn't there anyone there to help us," he said.
He immigrated with his family to the U.S. in 1999 and was quickly drawn toward public service.
"I want to be that person," Teng said. "I want people to come to me when they need something."
Josephat Onuoha, an immigrant from Cambodia, became interested in policing when a family member suffered a mental health crisis.
"His interaction with the police is what drove me to become a police officer, and learning all I could about the law," Onuoha said.
Updated: December 20, 2018 05:50 PM
Created: December 20, 2018 05:08 PM
Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company