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Immigrant program in four Hennepin County cities get police Civil Rights Award

Four Hennepin County cities working together on immigrant issues through a Joint Community Police Partnership Program have received a Civil Rights Award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Hopkins, Richfield, Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center are in the program, and received the award last month in Denver.

The program assigns Immigrant Outreach Specialists to work with city police departments, says the Sun Newspapers:

The specialists seek to improve immigrant understanding of law-enforcement practices, help them access needed services and provide a link between the police department and the immigrant community. The program also organizes police officer training in cultural sensitivity and languages.

The Immigrant Outreach Specialist in Hopkins is Tsehai Wodajo, who has been involved in several projects in Hopkins, including the Blake Road Corridor Advisory Coalition.

With Wodajo’s help, the Hopkins Police Department has conducted cultural training for officers, New Americans Academies for immigrants, hired a Somali police cadet and created the Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee in the past two years.

Hopkins has the third highest percentage of foreign-born residents in the metro area, the paper said.

Hopkins Mayor Gene Maxwell said the police department was being proactive in working with its immigrant population.

“Instead of sitting around and waiting for things to happen, we went out and did it,” he said.

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