Somali-Canadian officer a first for Edmonton Police Service

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The first Somali-Canadian recruit to graduate from the Edmonton Police Service academy officially joined the ranks Thursday.

Const. Amal Abdi, 28, was among 30 new officers celebrated during a ceremony at city hall.

“We’ve been saying that we want to see representatives of our community be part of the Edmonton police,” said advocate Ahmed Abdulkadi, with the Ogaden Somali Community of Alberta. “This is one step forward and this will heal a lot of wounds.”

Abdi shied away from attention herself, but friend Radwan Mohamed said, like the rest of her classmates, Abdi has worked hard to get to this point.

“The diversity of experience that she brings will automatically make a difference,” Mohamed said.
Abdi was born in the Somali capital of Mogadishu and lived in a few other cities around the world before settling about 10 years ago in Edmonton where she has become a well-known volunteer.

“The police force couldn’t ask for somebody better,” Mohamed said.

The Somali community and Edmonton police have had a rocky relationship over the years.

Strained relationship

Following the violent deaths of several young men in the community, many accused the police of not caring or doing enough to stop the killings.

Some officers fired back saying the community was closed and refused to help investigators.

A report released last month found that young Somali-Edmontonians and junior police officers in the city both felt more training could improve community engagement.

Since the beginning of this year, the Somali community and other marginalized communities in Edmonton have been working with police to improve public safety.

Abdulkadir says hiring officers like Abdi will help improve relationships.

“This will go a long way,” he said.

Chief Rod Knecht said that in recent years, there has been more diversity among the recruits graduating from the police academy.

“We’re getting that balance that is very reflective of the community we serve,” he said.

“We’re learning more. We’re understanding more. We’re listening more.”

While there are other Somali-Canadian police officers in the country, to the knowledge of the Edmonton Police Service, Abdi is the first woman.

Abdulkadir said he does not expect more of Abdi than any other police officer, but noted that she is a role model, especially for girls.

“It can show that the sky’s the limit,” Abdulkadir said.

Source – CBC