First Somali American police officer in Oregon
As Khalid Ibrahim walked across the stage Thursday to accept his new Portland police badge, members of his Somali community shouted encouragement, clicked photos and smiled with pride.
"It's a victory, four years in the making. It's a historic moment,'' said Musse Olol, who chairs the Somali American Council of Oregon.
Ibrahim, 24, not only is the first Somali American officer in Portland, but the first to be hired in the state.
After the arrest of Mohamed Mohamud in November 2010 for trying to set off a bomb at the holiday tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Portland, members of the Somali community approached police, the FBI and federal prosecutors with the hope of developing personal relationships.
"At that time, a bridge did not exist,'' Olol said.
That effort -- coupled with ongoing outreach by Portland patrol Officer Natasha Haunsperger, who as a refugee from war-torn Croatia felt a particular kinship with Portland's immigrants – helped improve police relations with many in the estimated 8,000-member Somali population in the metro area.