Officer and refugee: New police recruit straddles worlds

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Officer Abdesselam Baddaoui studies in his class at the police station, where he is one of the newest members of the department.
Officer Abdesselam Baddaoui studies in his class at the police station, where he is one of the newest members of the department.

MANCHESTER, NH — Soon after arriving in New Hampshire as a teenager, Abdesselam Baddaoui met two fellow refugees who accidentally ended up involved in a criminal case because, after being instructed about domestic violence laws, the wife mistakenly believed she had to call police any time she and her husband argued.

“He got mad. She got mad, she picked up the phone, called 911. Police are at the door, and arrest the husband. She didn’t understand,” he said. “That stuck with me.”

Sixteen years later, Baddaoui is one of the newest members of the police department in New Hampshire’s largest city, where he hopes to help newer refugees avoid such misunderstandings. He and four other recruits, selected from about 200 applicants, were sworn in last week and are beginning months of intensive training.

Related Story: Celebrating diversity: MPD welcomes 5 new officers

Baddaoui, 30, was born in Algeria and lived there for 10 years before moving to Syria and then Lebanon. In 2000, his family was placed in Manchester, a place he had never heard of. He remembers going to an internet cafe and coming up with information only about Manchester, England.

He graduated from Manchester’s Central High School in 2004 and became a U.S. citizen 2006. He considered pursuing a corporate career after college and had worked in sales, but said law enforcement was always in the back of his mind.

“I felt that I needed to have some sort of purpose, do something that means something to me,” he said. “I like the challenge, because of the feeling you get after finishing. When you go through something really hard, I feel like I’ve done that a few times in my life, and then the feeling of reward afterwards, that’s something I relish.”

Chief Nick Willard said Baddaoui, like the other new officers, was chosen based on his credentials and, most important, his integrity.

“Given my incredible respect for the resettlement community in Manchester and how they have enriched the city in their own diversity,” he said, “I’m excited because he’s going to bring a completely different perspective.” Get the rest of the story here at the Concord

About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!