On Oct. 14 Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) welcomed a diverse group of new officers with varied backgrounds and abilities. In addition to English, the recruits speak Somali, Arabic, Greek, Hmong and Spanish. Two are women, eight have been community service officers, two were in the Army and one in the Air Force. Two of them, Adam Fiddler and Chiking Chazonkhueze, have worked on MTPD’s Homeless Action Team (HAT) as community service officers.
At 22, Ger Vang is the youngest recruit in his class, but he already has seen how police try to help people who are facing domestic violence. “I remember three or four times the SWAT team knocking on our door, taking my father away and taking some of us to foster care,” said Vang, who saw his father selling drugs and his mother’s suffering as a victim of domestic violence. “But I saw the things law enforcement did for my Mom, bringing us blankets, checking on us, taking us to McDonalds,” Vang said.
Brandon Samson, a former volunteer fire department emergency medical technician, joined the Army and deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. He was providing cover for a patrol trying to flee a compound after they were fired upon when he was shot in the neck. The shot fortunately didn’t puncture an artery, and he was able to run to a checkpoint where he was evacuated to a field hospital for treatment. He declined to be flown to Germany for physical therapy and instead returned to his patrol unit in a week.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in public health and sociology, Shawn Tubbs worked in finance for a decade before changing careers. In 2015, she entered a skills program at Hennepin Technical College. “It was around the time of the Michael Brown incident, and I decided I could help,” said Tubbs, referring to the Black man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in 2014 in Ferguson, Mo. The officer was cleared by a grand jury and a federal investigation months later, and another investigation resulted in no charges this summer.
She became a community service officer in a suburban Minneapolis police department and later a correctional officer for a local sheriff’s department. “My 13-year-old daughter thought it was cool. For my husband, it was a curveball for me going from corporate to being a police officer,” Tubbs said.
Before the swearing-in ceremony, the recruits completed the department’s custom, nine-week academy. They now will spend another four months working alongside field training officers. Metro Transit police officers can respond to calls from throughout the seven-county region but primarily focus on patrolling the transit network.
The other new officers are: