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Youness Elalam, First Moroccan-Origin Police Officer in Revere, Massachusetts

Rabat – Members from the Moroccan-American diaspora in the city of Revere, Massachusetts celebrated on Monday the hiring of Youness Elalam as the first police officer of Moroccan decent in the city.Revere is known for its sizeable Moroccan community, which represents more than 10 percent of the city’s population.The ceremony was organized by the association Moroccan American Connections in Revere (MACIR) at the Revere Police Headquarters. Born in Casablanca, Elalam immigrated with his family to the US when he was only 11 years old. After he obtained his BA from the University of Massachusetts, Elalam joined the US National Guard and underwent an intensive training with the Massachusetts State Police.Rachid Moukhabir, president of MACIR, told Morocco World News that other Moroccan candidates had also applied for the position. “Some of them are still on the waiting list, but apparently Youness was the perfect candidate for this position because of his education and experience,” explained Moukhabir.The hiring of Elalam came in response to an controversy that sparked up between the police and Moroccan-American community in Revere a year ago.In 2016, Revere law enforcement officers raided a house inhabited by Moroccan tenants following what turned out to be a hoax call made by an anonymous caller. The unidentified caller claimed that he had heard gunshots in the house, leading the police officers and a SWAT team to raid the house.Following the incident, MACIR, which aims to promote integration of the Moroccan-American community in the city of Revere, condemned the police intervention through a report addressed to the local enforcement agency. MACIR criticized what it saw as an excessive response, as “the Moroccan tenants were psychologically scared and sleep deprived after the incident.”Any reasonable person [would] suggest that the SWAT team was not needed in the first place, [and] stipulate that the cops were heavy-handed in the way they dealt with those tenants,” added the report.MACIR held a meeting after the incident, where a set of policy recommendation were addressed to local law enforcement institutions in the city.The list of recommendations consisted of several propositions, including the hiring of Moroccan police officers in the city. It also emphasized that law enforcement personnel should be mandated to attend periodic cultural competence workshops offered by a cultural expert.In accordance with the recommendations, the Revere Police Department has paid for three police lieutenants and three sergeants to take Arabic language and culture classes run by MACIR, out of a large number who wished to learn the language.The classes were launched in coordination with Revere Community School.Moukhabir said, “We are very happy to see our Mayor responding promptly to our suggestions and we will continue to work with the city officials to make our city a role model.” read more