Former Rwandan Refugee Training to Become Ohio Police Officer

June 3, 2024
Born and raised in a Rwandan refugee camp, Fidele Ngabo came to the U.S. in 2019 and is training at the Sinclair Police Academy to be a police officer so other refugees know they're not alone.

By London Bishop

Source Dayton Daily News, Ohio

Editor's note: Our community needs professional, well-trained, accountable law enforcement. That's why we sent reporter London Bishop to attend the Sinclair Police Academy, where for six months she is learning alongside recruits what it takes to wear the badge, telling their stories, and helping the public understand how police are trained to do their job. Visit the Behind the Badge page on our website for more from this project.

Before picking up a handgun at range training day at Sinclair Police Academy, cadet Fidele Ngabo was among the cadets who had never touched a gun before — though he has been shot at.

Prior to range week, Ngabo said he was nervous about hearing the sounds of gunfire again.

"I didn't expect it to be like this, because I was scared about it," he said on his first day at the range. "I was like, 'This is going to be a hard time, shooting and hearing those sounds again,' but it went well."

Ngabo, 26, was born and raised in a refugee camp in Rwanda. He and his family are Congolese Tutsi, an ethnic minority group and subjects of the Rwandan genocide.

From April to July 1994, ethnic majority Hutu militants in Rwanda campaigned to exterminate the Tutsi people, as well as moderate Hutus, killing more than 800,000 people in 100 days.

This July 4 marks the 30-year anniversary of the end of the Rwandan genocide. Though, as Ngabo tells it, the violence didn't end then.

In the fall of 1994, the United Nations established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and ordered the court to prosecute acts of genocide. Militants fleeing prosecution escaped into the Congo, where they began killing Congolese Tutsi.

"The Hutu never got enough. They still want to kill more. They're not done," Ngabo said.

Ngabo and a group of refugees made one attempt to go back to Congo in 2018. Running out of food and water, they decided to walk the two hours back to the border. They were met with gunfire and tear gas from Rwandan police.

22 refugees were shot and killed, including two infants.

"You look the same," Ngabo said of the warring factions of his childhood. "You were born in a country, your grandfather was born here, your grandfather's grandfather was born in this country, and you're telling people to go somewhere else, and they don't have anywhere to go, because that's their homeland. Some of us don't have citizenship anywhere in the world, which is crazy to me."

Ngabo came to the United States in 2019. He chose to become a police officer so other refugees in the community know they're not alone, and that there are police officers they can trust.

"There's a lot of refugees in Dayton and Ohio, and when they get here, they feel like every police officer is the same," he said.

"Sometimes they don't feel safe or feel free, even if something happened, they don't feel free to tell police officers, because 'if I tell this person, he's going to shoot me,'" he said. "The main goal, if they have me, is I will show them the difference."


(c)2024 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

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