West Fargo Police Department Introduces New Cultural Liaison Officer
Officer Ryan Feltman will work with different cultural groups in West Fargo
WEST FARGO, N.D. — After becoming the West Fargo Police Chief more than a year ago, Chief Heith Janke says one of his goals was to bridge the gap between the department and New Americans in his city.
“We have a large New American population, and from the police department, we weren’t doing enough to interact and build those relationships, and to find out what the public needs from us as a police department,” said Chief Janke.
Recent tragedies, including the drowning of six–year–old David Logulomo emphasized the need of a cultural liaison officer in the community.
“It’s things like that if the community says ‘we need more swimming lessons, we need help in these certain situations’, it’ll be the cultural liaison officer’s job to identify those needs and figures out how to fix the problem,” said Chief Janke.
Patrol officer Ryan Feltman was named the department’s first cultural liaison officer.
The New American community in the metro is eager to meet him.
“We welcome that. It’s long overdue. It’s always important to have that kind of bridge between the police department and the New American community,” said Christian Harris, the Executive Director of the New American Consortium for Wellness and Empowerment.
Harris says the New American Consortium is already working with the Fargo Police Department, but he is excited to hear the West Fargo Police Department wants to work with the New American community.
“A lot of New Americans live in West Fargo, a lot of New Americans attend the schools in West Fargo, so we think a liaison would be someone that we can trust, someone that would understand us,” said Harris.
Chief Janke says the position will continue to evolve with feedback from the community.
“We’re going to continue to meet with those groups and get more input, because we want this position built by the community. We’re not going to tell them how to build it, it’s more ‘hey, let’s take input from everyone and show that this can be successful,” said Chief Janke.
Officer Feltman will serve as a patrol officer alongside his new role as cultural liaison officer.
Chief Janke anticipates that Feltman will begin serving full–time in the role in November.