MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a program that has been in a schools for almost three decades. You may even remember taking it yourself – D.A.R.E. Or maybe you have a fourth- or fifth-grader who is going through the program right now.
This year, Minnesota D.A.R.E. has 22 new officers.READ MORE: Weeks After Deadline, Still No Deal For Frontline Worker Pay
As the demographics of Minnesota’s population continue to change, so do the D.A.R.E. officers who serve. That includes two of the first Somali D.A.R.E. officers from the Columbia Heights Police Department.
They are Officer Mohammed Farah and Ibrahim Farah. WCCO’s Ali Lucia recently sat down with who the kids call “Officer Mo” to learn more about the program, and this morning he is our Minnesotan to Meet.
Farah immigrated to Minnesota with his family in 2002.
As a ninth-grader at Rochester Mayo High School, he didn’t speak English, so serving in the police force seemed like a far off dream.
“I immigrated to this country, I never imagined being a peace officer, and certainly my parents never imagined being a police officer, growing up in the civil war (in Somalia),” Farah said.
Four years ago, he achieved his goal when he became a member of the Columbia Heights Police Department.READ MORE: Former Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty Announces Campaign For Hennepin County Attorney
“It’s a very challenging demanding career and certain people can’t do it,” Farah said. “It has to be in your blood or something to be a police officer.”
As a D.A.R.E. Officer, Farah is fostering relationships with students at Valley View Elementary School. The Executive Director of D.A.R.E Minnesota Kathi Ackerman said this is critical not only for Officer Mo, but also the kids.
“Getting into the classroom, forming a relationship with children, we talk to them about safety information it could be a variety of different topics,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman said the relationship development goes both ways.
“The other strange thing is that the officers are humanizing the children as well, they’re not just a community of kids and he begins to learn from them as they learn from him,” Ackerman said.
Officer Mo is set to serve on the D.A.R.E. diversity council, Ackerman says to help better fit the D.A.R.E communities that they serve.MORE NEWS: 'Our Presence Is Showing Our Love': On The Streets Of Minneapolis With Violence Interrupters
Offier Mo said recently he was out on a medical call and he ran into one of his D.A.R.E. students. He said it made a huge difference when responding to an emergency situation.