The Metro Transit Police Department welcomed 13 new full-time officers during a swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 26. The event included remarks from Chief John Harrington, General Manager Brian Lamb and Metropolitan Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff.
More than half of the new officers are women and people of color and half speak more than one language, including Hmong, Laotian, Spanish, Somali, Arabic and Turkish.
Harrington has been a strong advocate for diversifying the department since he joined Metro Transit in 2012. He said the current group of new officers expands the department's force strength to 121 full-time officers and boosts the department's diversity, with nearly half of the force made up of women and people of color.
During the ceremony, Harrington pinned badges on the recruits to mark their graduation from MTPD’s 10-week police academy into their new roles as sworn officers.
Harrington said the academy curriculum emphasized the recruits' roles as guardians of the community, training them in communication skills, ethics, mindfulness, and sensitivity to disabled people and immigration status.
“Everything you went through was designed to get you to one purpose: To get you ready for what I promise will be the most exciting, but also the most challenging, job you'll ever have," he said.
Among the newly-minted officers are Liban Ibrahim and Tong Xiong, who served as Community Service Officers before attending the academy. They are the first CSOs to participate in a pilot program for CSOs who want to become officers. Before the academy started, they received mentoring and additional field experience to help them succeed in the academy.
Ibrahim and Xiong both said they were inspired to move forward in their policing careers because of their long-held desires to help others.
“I like how officers do the beat, how they connect with people," Xiong said. "I want to become a beat officer to help prevent problems, but also help people solve their problems when they come up."
Tchourumoff thanked the graduates for their commitment to public service and praised them for their high level of professionalism as they serve Metro Transit's diverse communities.
Lamb remarked on the growth, maturity and respect of the diverse department. He said the transit police play a special role in its service to Metro Transit's thousands of daily customers.
“More and more, this department reflects who we are and where we’re going," he said. “You as new officers have the opportunity to represent diversity, but also to respect the diversity we have. We're excited you're here to assure people that when they take transit, they can do so with confidence and a sense of security.”
Also during the swearing-in ceremony, 12-year officer Bret Fraser received a new badge to mark his recent promotion to Sergeant.