Friday, September 25, 2009

NoMi Hmong Press Their Request For Hmong Police Officer On Day Shift...

Photo By John Hoff

With organizing assistance from Jay Clark of CURA at the U of M, last night Hmong children passed out cards at the Hawthorne Annual Meeting and Dinner for Hawthorne residents and businesspeople to sign. The cards basically ask Mayor Rybak for a Hmong officer on the 4th Precinct day shift.

Housing Director Jeff Skrenes recently summed up the problem this way...

IF YOUR HAND IS ON A HOT STOVE, but you have no nerves in your hand, you won't know your tissue is being burned and injured. So it is with some of the Hmong in North Minneapolis, who feel cut off from using services like 911 and 311 due to language and cultural barriers.

There are reports of Hmong who have been terrorized by thugs and drug dealers, and sipmly endured for months or years because of the cultural and language barriers. This needs to stop. We need to find a way to bridge the gulf for these Hmong.


Anonymous said...

First we need Hmong men and women who want to be police officers AND work in North Minneapolis. It is up to the Hmong community to support them and help them to do that. The city of Minneapolis should recruit a diverse group of men and women to reflect their population. I don't believe we need to spend additional resources for this initiative. The hardest work needs to be done within the Hmong community itself. Yes Mayor Rybak and Chief Dolancan can make it a priority to increase diversity but the real support and encouragement needs to come from the elders within the community.

The Mortgage Geek said...

Credit where credit is due: The line about the hand and nerves not connected came from none other than Don Samuels when he spoke at a Hawthorne Huddle last year.

And I agree with the anonymous comment about where things need to start. We can push the police and the mayor all we want on this issue, but if the Hmong community isn't supportive of its own police officers then Hmong officers won't want to be stationed here. From what I've experienced so far, I don't think we'll have that problem, but it's good to be intentional about addressing it.

Margaret said...

I think it's also important to be aware that Hmong officers may have their own priorities in this too. It was mentioned that there are officers that were working different jobs that could be reassigned. Police are like the military, most assignments reflect some kind of ranking and you have to work your way up. By sticking a young officer with the role of "Hmong officer at the 4th precinct" you may actually be harming their career long term if the assignment isn't on the career path. It's important to know what you really need, (understanding, translation, representation) and meet those needs without harming the long term prospects for promotion of Hmong officers.

Wendy said...

In the 90s, the Southeast Asian Community Leaders Forum was created to address exactly the same issue - although it was dealing with 4 major groups - Hmong, Vietnamese, Lao, and Cambodian. The goal of the group was to work with the various community leaders to improve relations between the police and the community, as well as within the various community groups.

The idea began in my living room, and my husband, Dan, (who was a rookie cop in the 4th Pct at the time), my father-in-law, long-time family friend Phay Vang, and Lt. Bret Lindback were involved.

Community relations saw a dramatic improvement. Dan taught classes to the entire department on Policing in the Southeast Asian Communities, wrote a paper that was published in a Justice Department Journal. His key message was that you don't need to be _____ to police the ______ community, but you do need to understand the culture, have good translators, and work with the community to undo some of the misperceptions that they have about the police. It is better to work toward cultural understanding on all sides, than to just buy into the idea that you have to match every police contact by race or ethnicity.

In the police world, diversity is a huge asset in hiring. Dan was continually recruited by other departments and federal agencies. He stayed in Mpls because he felt like he was making a difference.

Dan was the highest ranking Asian officer on the department, until he was injured by a blast while working as the Bomb Commander in 2005. He has a brain injury and is unable to work. We have struggled for the past 4 1/2 years with the city bureaucracy, and trying to get proper care and support for Dan. Both Dan, and his ideas, have been forgotten.

Seems like the same old ideas just keep circulating around, and nobody ever remembers, or learns from, the past.

Anonymous said...

The shameful way the City handled the Duy Ngo case indicates to me that the City and Police Dept. do not want Hmong officers. Which is too bad.

Jordan Neighbor said...

@Wendy - thanks for writing and joining the conversation. Thank you and your husband for the obvious sacrifices you have made for his contributions to the MPD. Please know there are many of us out here who are so ever grateful for the law enforcement professionals and everything they go up against to make our world better.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.