2 cities recruit Somalis to public safety

Jan. 2, 2013 at 4:30 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Two large U.S. cities have begun recruiting Somali immigrants for public safety jobs.

Minneapolis, the largest city in Minnesota, and Columbus, Ohio, have the largest and second-largest Somali populations in the country. Officials in both cities say the police and fire departments should reflect the population, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

In Minneapolis, 35 young Somali men showed up last week for a meeting with fire officials.

"It's important for the fire department that it reflects the face of the community," said Casidy Anderson, a community risk reduction officer.

In Columbus, Ohio's capital and largest city, officials plan to hire a consultant to help increase diversity in the police and fire departments, the Dispatch said.

Napoleon Bell, the executive director of the Columbus Community Relations Commission, said many immigrants have had bad experiences in their homelands with public safety forces, making them reluctant to consider jobs with them.

"There is a targeted approach to reach out not just to the Somali community but to all immigrant communities," Bell said.

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