In swing state Nevada, police try to give voice to minority Asian Americans

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 November, 2016, 8:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 November, 2016, 9:21am

Nevada may be known to the world of American election politics as a swing state with an increasingly diversifying population that both presidential candidates wish to capture. But the growing presence of minority groups in the state is not just felt during the election, but throughout the day-to-day operation of the police officers here in Las Vegas.

As I spoke to several members of the city’s police department, including a captain and several officers, who are in charge of the Asian American neighbourhood, I was surprised at how much effort they devoted to reaching out to minority groups.

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For example, police officers would have regular meetings with local groups and chambers in Chinatown to better understand their concerns. They hope the interaction will help ease the feeling that Chinese Americans may not feel comfortable cooperating with law enforcement and reporting crime.

The police department has also been diversifying its force and targeting Asian Americans as recruits.

Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing ethnic group in Nevada and also across the United States. In Nevada, Asian Americans account for 8.3 per cent of the population, a figure that is expected to double by 2060.

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The “Asian factor” is not only manifested in the resident population in Las Vegas, but also the increasing flow of Asian visitors to gambling and tourism spots in Las Vegas.

Police officers also told me that the opening of a direct flight between Las Vegas and Beijing starting next month – with three non-stop flights a week – had law enforcement preparing for an influx of Chinese tourists.

Such development mirrors the larger trend of the need for Asian Americans to better integrate into American society – starting with baby steps.

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Before casting their vote and becoming aware of their political influence in an election, Asian Americans in Nevada should start by engaging more with the local community.

Before being comfortable in voicing their political opinion, they will have to first be comfortable with speaking out when they see crime and injustice.