03/31/2006

St. Paul police get $250,000 grant for work with Muslim/Somali communities

BY LEE EGERSTROM
Pioneer Press

The Minnesota Department of Publish Safety has awarded a $250,000 grant to the St. Paul Police Department and partnering organizations for an outreach program with the Muslim and Somali communities in the city.

The police department will partner with the St. Paul Intervention Project and the Minnesota Chapter of the Muslim American Society of America in developing an outreach program with Muslim and Somali communities. Women's issues and domestic assault issues will be part of the program, the police department said.

Chief of Police John Harrington announced the program this morning. It is a second grant for projects involving the St. Paul police and the St. Paul Intervention Project.

The project and grant proposal was an outgrowth of a master's thesis by Assistant Chief Dennis Jensen, the police department said. That thesis, entitled "Enhancing Homeland Security Efforts by Building Stronger Relationships between the Muslim Community and Local Law Enforcement," was completed for the Naval Post Graduate School.

Five goals for the grant include:

- Increase understanding among the police, the intervention project and diverse Muslim communities.

- Increase involvement of Muslim community members with police and the intervention project to improve public safety and the community environment.

- Increase immigrant understanding of the criminal justice system.

- Increase criminal justice system accountability with the immigrant Muslim communities.

- And, help increase the Muslim communities' roles in "affecting positive change" through various ways, including reporting crimes, seeking protection and intervention from police, volunteer community policing and through battered women's advocacy and support services.

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