Transit Police Chief Harrington pays visit to Somalia

Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington, Apr. 15, 2015 in Minneapolis at the department's headquarters. Jennifer Simonson | MPR News file

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Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington is in Somalia for a visit aimed at establishing relations between Somali and Minnesota law enforcement agencies.

Harrington arrived in the capital Mogadishu Thursday for a weeklong visit, Sgt. Waheid Siraach of the Metro Transit Police told MPR News.

Siraach, who became the first Somali sergeant in the nation in 2013, has taken a year’s leave of absence to train the Somali police force in how to investigate crimes. Siraach organized Harrington’s visit to Mogadishu, which was sponsored by Bancroft Global Development, a State Department-funded group that advises the African Union forces fighting al-Shabab.

When he arrived in Mogadishu, Harrington met with Somalia’s police chief, Mohamed Sheikh Hassan Hamud, and other government officials. He’ll give a speech Friday to the Somali police.

Somalia has been rebuilding its police force after it disintegrated during the civil war more than 20 years ago. The police have succeeded in bringing relative stability back to the country, but struggle to contain the terrorist group al-Shabab’s deadly attacks.

Harrington is the first law enforcement officer from Minnesota to visit Somalia. It comes at a time when Somali-Minnesotans are beginning to join law enforcement agencies. In April, Kadra Mohamed joined the Metro Transit Police, becoming the first female Somali police officer in the nation.

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