Somali police officials visit the Metro to learn more about policing

Police in Somalia lack the technology that officers have in Minnesota, but it doesn’t mean they can’t learn from us. Which is why the top police officer in Mogadishu is in the Twin Cities hoping to bring home some ideas.

It makes sense that during his first glimpse of a Minnesota winter, Somalia’s top cop would describe the challenges officers face back in his home county as “below zero.”

"Its not just policing service, it’s combating terrorists… expecting suicide attacks daily, expecting organized crime happening with a lack of equipment, sustainability of salaries, poor training,” Somali Police Commissioner Maj. Gen. Mohamed Sheik Hassan said.

The Somali commissioner is touring law enforcement agencies in the Twin Cities to see how our criminal justice system works, and to gain equipment and expertise that will help fight our common enemy: terrorists.

He’s returning the favor after Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington visited Mogadishu last summer to check in on one of his sergeants who is training Somali police officers in investigative techniques.

"Their equipment, their facilities are the kind of stuff we'd see in the 1970's,” Harrington said. “They are 30 years behind where we are in technology -- but of what I saw from the officers and citizens and detectives, they are a very competent, hardworking, forward-thinking department."

With Minnesota being home to the largest Somali population outside Somalia, and a growing number of young people being radicalized to go to Africa to fight for Islamic extremists like Al Shabaab and ISIS, Metro Transit police say it’s in our best interest to make sure Somalia’s relatively new police force gets up to speed after more than 20 years of civil war.

"When they stand on their feet and perform as police doing their job, that will help us here when people leave here and go there. They can capture them and interview them and prosecute them so they don’t come back to use here,” Sgt. Wahrid Siraach, who is training police in Somalia, said.

Even though Minnesota and Somalia are thousands of miles apart, finding common ground makes our global village a little bit smaller.

"We have the will. We have the vision and we know where we are heading and we are counting on other international partners in designing the future of Somali police forces," said Waheid Siraach who trains police in Somalia.