Calgary

Calgary police chief Rick Hanson meets with Somali community

Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson reaffirmed to a crowd at the Abu Bakr Islamic Center that police are committed to working with the Somali community to help stop the violence that is killing their young men.

Hanson says he wants Somali-Canadian kids to grow up in a country where they have 'the right to be safe.'

Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson addresses the crowd at the Abu Bakr Islamic Centre Saturday night as Imam Abdi Hersy looks on. (CBC)

Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson reaffirmed to a crowd at the Abu Bakr Islamic Center that police are committed to working with the Somali community to help stop the violence that is killing their young men.

Two men from the Calgary Somali community lost their lives to violence less than a day apart at the start of 2015. Abdullahi Ahmed, 27, and 23-year-old Murat Omar died in separate incidents that police say are not related.

Local leaders from the Somali community say the loss of these young men are part of the greater issue that the community needs to address. They have been urging local politicians and police to sit down and have a conversation with them in order to foster a more understanding relationship.

Last night, the police chief had the opportunity to address about 150 members of the Calgary Somali community.

"Part of the reason I'm so honoured to be here today is ... you've got the kids over there," he said. "The most important part of this conversation is making sure those beautiful kids grow up in a country where they have the right to be safe."

Calgary police are still investigating the deaths of Ahmed and Omar and have been imploring for witnesses in the Somali community to speak out. Hanson told the crowd he is aware there are trust issues between police and Alberta's Somali community.

"One thing that's hard for us to overcome and we know we have to prove it to all of you is that in Canada, the police are an arm of the community. We're not an arm of the state," Hanson said.

Calgary Imam Abdi Hersy says the people in the community share a great responsibility in making sure young people don't lose their way.

"We, the Somali community are willing to rehabilitate our youth from the problems they are engaged with right now, from the crimes, from whatever is causing them to be dead," said Hersy.

Hersy says that the community needs to work hand-in-hand with police to solve and tackle the real issues in order to put an end to the violence.

  

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