A university professor has asked the leadership of Columbus, Ohio, to recruit more Somali police officers for better integration of local Somalis into the American community. In her new book, “Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus,” Stefanie Chambers, an associate professor of political science at Trinity College in Connecticut, says Somali migrants in Columbus don’t feel well-represented in many sectors of the society like their countrymen in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“We can go a long way to better serve our new Americans. We can go a long way to breaking down barriers,” Chambers was quoted as saying by the Columbus Dispatch.
Chambers pointed out that the Minneapolis Police Department has seven Somali police officers, with several others in the academy, while Columbus has none.
In the book, which is set to be published in March, Chambers accuses the Columbus Police Department of discriminating against Somalis based on their religion.
According to her, it’s illogical that Columbus police won’t allow potential female recruits from the community to wear the hijab.
The Columbus police department issued a statement explaining that they wanted the division to be perceived as a nonreligious, nonpolitical organization.
Somalis in Columbus say their community feels disowned by the rest of the population in the city, which is home to the second largest Somali population in America after Minneapolis.
This exclusion has led to a high-level of mistrust between the Somali community and law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.
“There were a lot of concerns about the FBI. Somalis are concerned that they only show up when there is a problem. There’s a feeling that they don’t have the long-term interest,” Chambers said.
Lack of Leadership
While the Columbus Police Department is largely to blame for the segregation of Somalis in the area, Chambers says the community lacks the proper leadership to help them voice their concerns.
She revealed that there are multiple groups in Columbus that claim to serve the Somali community, but they have overlapping agendas and lack the necessary resources.
Chambers also discovered that Columbus has very low levels of philanthropic support for Somalis, leaving many of them vulnerable to exploitation by local employers.
Most Somalis in the area work odd-jobs in warehouses and a large portion of the community in the U.S. is comprised of refugees who were forced to flee their country due to the ongoing civil war.
Others are victims of terror attacks by the Somali-based terror group Al-Shabaab.