Messages from the Council Chair

Transit police demonstrate Council’s commitment to diversity

November 2017

At the end of October, I had the opportunity to see 13 new full-time police officers take an oath to protect and serve our transit riders. These officers come from all walks of life, several speak more than one language, including Hmong, Laotian, Spanish, Somali, Arabic and Turkish. Had this group of people been dressed in civilian clothes, sitting on a bus, they would have looked like any other gathering of random people in the Twin Cities.
Council Chair Alene TchourumoffMetro Transit Police Chief John Harrington calls this “the gold standard of policing,” a police force made up of officers that reflect the community they serve. This graduating class is not an aberration. Like the rest of our transit police force, half of these new officers are women and people of color.
The Metropolitan Council is committed to diversity because it’s an essential part of building a more equitable region. By 2040, 40% of our region’s population will be comprised of people of color. But currently this region has stark gaps in equity when it comes to income, education, home ownership and housing.
If people of color in the metro region were on the same social and economic footing as whites, we would have 274,000 fewer residents in poverty—creating over $43 billion in personal income. The size of our talent pool would increase, drawing more employers to the region. In turn, that would generate even more wealth.
The first and primary mandate the Minnesota Legislature gave to the Metropolitan Council was to plan for the region’s future growth and development. We partner with seven counties and over 180 communities in an ongoing discussion about how the region should grow and evolve for future generations. The fact that our population is becoming more diverse makes it imperative that our own staff mirror this reality.
Diversity isn’t just a buzzword. Committing to build a diverse workforce is a commitment to excellence in the way you solve problems; it is an understanding that new challenges need new ideas from a wider range of people. I’m proud of the Metro Transit Police Department, for the work they do protecting our riders every day, and for showing all of us that it’s possible to build a diverse, equitable workforce.

Alene Tchourumoff

See "New class of MTPD officers reflect diversity of transit community" on Metro Transit's Rider's Almanac blog.

Tags: diversity, equity