In Somali culture, women don’t strive to become police officers, Kadra Mohamed said.
Earlier this summer, Mohamed was recognized as the first Somali-American woman to join the St. Paul Police Department, a move made possible by the department’s announcement that it has approved an option for employees to wear a police-issued hijab.
“It’s nerve-wracking in a way,” Mohamed, 21, said. “I want to be a good role model for others, especially Somali women.”
Mohamed said she had worries about whether or not she could wear her hijab while she was working, but was able to get one made so that it would not impair her from performing any duties. One row of buttons runs horizontally along the sides of her head, connecting the top half to a scarf that tightly hugs her neck. The buttons can snap off easily, she said, in case a criminal tried to pull the cloth around her neck.
Since 2004, St. Paul has made an effort to recruit Somali-Americans into the police force, especially since the Twin Cities area has the largest Somali-American population. The first Somali-American to join the police force was Garaad Sahal in 2012.
Born in Kenya, Mohamed grew up and lives part-time in St. Paul’s West Side with her mother, who fled the ongoing civil war in Somalia and lived in a Kenyan refugee camp before coming to the U.S. with her daughter.