St. Paul’s first Somali police officer featured in L.A. Times story

There was lots of local media attention in March, when Kadra Mohamed got her badge and began working as a community liaison police officer in St. Paul.

She was the first Somali in the department, and the first to wear a hijab.

Now, the Los Angeles Times spent time with her on the beat, talking with old friends on the North End and riding through the Hmong community.

With police-Somali relations sometimes tense in the Twin Cities — Somali gangs have formed and youth here have been recruited for terrorism abroad — her presence on the force seems to have come at a good time. But there are critics, says the story:

One blogger called her hiring a politically correct and potentially perilous gesture. By allowing her to wear a hijab, he wrote, the department “has placed her life on the line in more ways than one.”

… Older Somalis say she’s breaking a cultural creed: wearing pants and short-sleeve shirts and working closely among men in public.

Mohamed’s goal is to become a sworn officer on the force. That would mean carrying a gun, which, she says, her mother won’t allow in the house.

The story concludes:

One day, Mohamed says, she might be working as a gang unit officer or helping the department identify political extremists in her community. One thing she’s not afraid of is arresting a Somali man, an unimaginable scenario for many in the male-dominated culture.

“I’ll speak to him in our language — Somali to Somali,” she says. “I’ll explain that this is my job.”

“He broke the law. And there are steps that must be taken.”

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