BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (FOX 9) - The Brooklyn Park Police Department is making an effort to hire more diverse officers. It's all to reflect a community of many different cultures and backgrounds.
Several of those law enforcement officers are also becoming U.S. citizens in the process.
At a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall Thursday, several Brooklyn Park police officers took the official oath and had their badges pinned. One of the cadets recognized was Paul Clement, who was born in Liberia. He moved with his family to Brooklyn Park years ago and aspired to be an officer, like his father was in Liberia.
“Brooklyn Park has one of the biggest Liberian communities in the state, so I thought what a great way to help my community out and become a police officer,” said Clement.
Clement is still waiting on his citizenship application to be complete. It’s another hurdle in his journey to officially be considered an American and then go on to accomplish his dream of becoming a cop.
“It’s not easy, there’s a lot of work to it,” he said. “You got to jump through a lot of hoops, but it’ll be worth it in the end. It is going to be worth it in the end.”
Brooklyn Park is one of the most diverse communities in the state. Trying to reflect that on the police force is challenging, especially when fewer people want to become officers in these often volatile times.
“It takes a lot of character to do something that a lot of the community thinks you shouldn’t be doing,” said Brooklyn Park Police Chief Craig Enevoldsen.
Recently, Brooklyn Park Detention Officer Juan Sanchez became a U.S. citizen. Clement hopes he will be next.
“It will be one of the best days of my life," he said.
His wife Briana hopes it will inspire the next generation of Liberian children to pursue a career to protect and serve.
“To give other young kids—Liberian kids—someone to look up to and say, ‘I want to be a police officer one day too,’” said Briana Clement.
The officers all went through the standard program of a five-week training course and then will embark on more field training until they are ready to be on their own. While Clement waits for his citizenship, he will continue to shadow other officers and learn on the job.