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Toronto police learn from U.S. success with Somali community

Minneapolis police Sgt. Mohamed Abdullahi and Const. Abdiwahab Ali speak with Toronto officers about policing in the Somali community on Jan. 16, 2015. TWITTER/Sgt. Bassey Osagie

Toronto police are hoping to learn from two officers in Minneapolis who have had success engaging with the Somali community.

Sgt. Mohamed Abdullahi and Const. Abdiwahab Ali are in Toronto for four days to see how police are interacting with the city’s Somali community and to share what they know.

Somali-Canadians have long said they need help dealing with a gang problem and need more officers of Somali origin on the streets. They’ve also accused police of unfairly targeting their community.

In particular, the Project Traveller raids in June 2013 made residents of the Dixon Road community feel “victimized, vilified and traumatized as a result of the reckless manner in which officers forcibly entered their homes,” Mahad Yusuf of Midaynta Community Services said at the time.

The Toronto Police Service has set up a Somali Liaison Unit in 23 Division, west of the Humber River and north of Eglinton Avenue West.

Police are holding a public forum about the initiative from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Woodbine Banquet and Convention Hall in Etobicoke.