The Arlington Police Department has applied for a Homeland Security grant that could help its officers improve relationships with members of the city's growing Muslim community.
The grant — $47,500 over two years — would go toward overtime pay for officers who could, in turn, attend community meetings and hold clinics geared toward Muslims, according to a department spokesperson.
Improved trust is the key to the success of such an effort, according to Dr. Basheer Ahmed, the former head of psychiatry at John Peter Smith Hospital. Ahmed said that Arlington police have made it clear to him that they value him and other members of his community, but not everyone shares that same trust.
“Let me start with the little children in school. The boy coming home, [with] bruises, [the parents] say, ‘What happened?’ ‘Oh, the boys beat me up. They say, “Your father is a terrorist. You should go home.” But I was born here,’” he said of a story he heard from a young child.
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Ahmed said he is hopeful that Arlington gets the grant.
“This is not just for the religious who will meet [with police], but the families. So that the families, the children, the wife they all say, ‘Okay, we’re comfortable. We are comfortable to call them. We trust them and they are here to help us,'” he said. “That’s the police department’s job.”