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Monday, February 9, 2009

EPS and Somalis work together

Edmonton (Canada) After a rocky start, the city police and members of the Somali community are starting to see eye-to-eye, hoping to reach the common goal of finding the killers of a handful of young Somali men.

In the six months or so since the bodies of Somali men - most often in their early 20s - started turning up dead in parks and schoolyards around Edmonton, the Somali community and the police have come a long way.

Their efforts culminated in yesterday's meeting, where Chief Mike Boyd and about 100 Somalis shared their views and concerns.

"Our objective was to build the trust between the Somali community and the Edmonton Police Service because they can't do their job without our help and we can't be safe without their work. We're trying to build a positive relationship ... to resolve this issue," said Hassan Ali, a spokesman for the Somali community.

Police brought information on gangs and gang violence and explained the rights and responsibilities of cops as well as some of the ins-and-outs of investigations to the gymnasium filled with Somalis of all ages.

"The meeting was very productive ... I felt that we got a good group from the broader community here, at the centre.

"We had an opportunity to present a number of the things, or programs, the way that we work with youth, information about the Citizen's Police Academy and the opportunity to ask and invite members of the Somali community into those citizen's academy classes."

Boyd added that he knows of about half a dozen Somalis who have expressed interest in becoming EPS officers, a move he welcomes with open arms.

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