RPD welcomes first officer from Nepal

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester Police are still looking to fill nearly 100 positions. The newest police academy class graduates Friday.

One member is already making history at RPD. Sailesh Bhattarai is the department’s first officer from Nepal. Bhattarai first came to Rochester in 2013 from Nepal. After becoming accustomed to America, he started work as a postal worker. But there was always more he wanted to do with his career.

“I wanted to be a cop back home as well, I tried to be a cop, but it didn’t work out good. And then I started learning things on how to be a police officer here. And I joined the workforce development program and was very grateful. I got to meet a lot of officers and got to know other people that wanted to be a police officer,” Bhattarai said.

The workforce development program is run by the city of Rochester and prepares people for work and helps them find jobs.

“Being an officer was always a dream. And then when I came here, it was different circumstances back home, the policing is different. But when I came here, the way policing was done was totally different and it attracted me,” Bhattarai said.

Bhattarai says the police force in Nepal was really not effective. So, he said, people in Nepal would be reluctant to call the police.

Om Dahal came to Rochester from Nepal in 2011. He says that uncertainty about police is common among other refugees who come here.

“Many fear making that phone call because there is a stigma that if we mistakenly make a phone call, we might actually get in trouble,” Dahal said.

Dahal says having an officer on the force with whom they can relate means a lot to the Nepalese community.

“Now that our accessibility has increased, especially for those people who do not speak English so they can, if there are channels available, they can directly talk to the officer and express their concern,” Dahal said.

And this is something that is extremely important to Bhattarai as well.

“Just being with them, talking to them, being in their houses. Just saying hello in their language, which is my language, I think that makes a difference,” Bhattarai said.

Sixty-one new officers will graduate Friday, 19 of whom will serve in RPD.