Refugee community engages in bridge-building with Harrisonburg Police Department

Published: Sep. 17, 2023 at 9:22 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Church World Service and Virginia’s Immigrant Voices gathered together at Eastern Mennonite University alongside refugees in the area to get to know the Harrisonburg Police Department.

Harrisonburg’s refugee community continues to grow with immigrants coming from multiple countries like Iraq, Nigeria, and Zambia. The opportunity was created to share experiences, concerns, and ideas for a safer and more inclusive community.

A major motive organizers had was for the bridge to be built on cultural sensitivity.

“The biggest benefit is that will be able to work together and look at the issues that the community try to understand the cultural differences here so we can provide insight on what the community feels about the law enforcement, and they will be able to also understand the background of who they are dealing with,” Church World Service Refugee Organizer Rodrigue Makelele said.

Refugees arrived in numbers at the meeting to show interest in being part of the entire community.

HPD’s Community Resource Sergeant John R. Hancock said his unit looks forward to engagement opportunities like this every month.