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Superior's first black officer brings to light department's outreach efforts

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SUPERIOR, WI -

Police in the Twin Ports are working to make sure their departments represent the people they serve.

Thursday night the Superior Police department swore in their first black officer, but one Twin Ports group said the police's efforts to connect to the community go much farther than that.

Assistant Police Chief Matt Markon agreed, it was a big night for Superior, the police department added four new members, one who made history.

"Now having someone who clearly stands out because of his racial background, will be a very good addition to our department and probably help us bridge some gaps that may have existed before with the neighborhoods of color that do exist in Superior," he said.

Ron Robinson is the first black officer hired by the city of Superior but while he stood out in one way, his path to the badge followed a very well-traveled road.

"All four of our officers do have some ties to UWS," Markon said.

And with the department's recent efforts, UWS Black Student Union adviser Ephraim Nikoi said that's no coincidence.

"Police chiefs in both Duluth and Superior were open and they came to our forum and we had our concerns we expressed our concerns, we expressed some of our fears and they also told us where they were coming from and this was where we started building trust," he said.

Nikoi said that the outreach efforts have made an impact on the way his students see the police and in some cases their own futures.

"We've even had some students who have gone on doing internships with the police force just because of the way they are relating with us," he said.

That's why the same week, Superior honored this UWS grad with a badge, Nikoi honored Superior Chief Nick Alexander and Duluth officer Ron Tinsley, in the same way he honors his graduates.

"We see this relationship building as an opportunity to really get to know what the police does and this is another way to recruit more minority population into the police force," Nikoi said.

According to the Superior Police Department Chief Alexander has been partnering with UWS since he became chief about two and a half years ago.

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