By Arnela Hadzisulejmanovic
Just as Foreign Service officers’ employ different types of diplomacy to further their nation’s goals, law enforcement officials should strive to do the same through consistent and meaningful community engagement. That was the focus of a recent series of discussions on law enforcement, organized by Embassy Stockholm’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council in late 2021. One simple, yet effective solution that came from the discussions was the use of sports diplomacy.
The event panel consisted of the embassy’s Regional Security Officer Oliver Lin-Justiniano, police officer Craig Hanaumi from Bellevue, Wash., and retired Federal Bureau of Investigations agent and university professor Joseph Morrash.
“Sports diplomacy provides common ground for law enforcement and the public to engage over justice issues, ” Lin-Justiniano said. “Discussions like these are useful to find solutions plaguing communities and law enforcement, such as the decades of mistrust between them. It humanizes the issues instead of categorizing them or turning them into a percentage.”
Hanaumi, who spoke remotely, shared stories of how his work teaching self-defense methods, specifically Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, to the communities he patrols, is a powerful tool for social integration and works effectively to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.
The three panel members also discussed conditions which disrupt the necessary positive bond between law enforcement and the community and gave examples on how the community and law enforcement can work together toward racial justice and equality. The audience consisted of locally employed staff, direct hire Americans, and employee family members.
One question posed by an attendee was, why have a discussion on law enforcement at the U.S. Embassy in Sweden?
Lin-Justiniano answered, “Embassy communities can be viewed as a microcosm of the U.S. population. By examining issues on a community level, law enforcement can start to hone in on solutions.”
The three panelists agreed that efforts to proactively seek solutions, whether at home or abroad, will help mitigate the possibility of major issues developing in the future.
Arnela Hadzisulejmanovic is a locally employed staff member at Embassy Stockholm and a member of their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council.