NYPD’s Ghana, Togo language speakers add to its diversity

Of the department’s latest batch of 650 new officers, two speak ‘Ewe,’ the primary language of thousands of people from Ghana and Togo — a first for the force.

Two of the 650 recruits that joined the NYPD Police Academy Thursday speak the primary language of Ghana and Togo — a first for the 168-year-old police force, officials believe.

More than 3 million people in West Africa’s Ghana and Togo speak Ewe. Most of the 27,000 Ghanaian immigrants who live in the city are clustered in the Bronx.

Manhattan attorney and Ghana native Eric Darko reasoned that since about 25% of Ghanaians speak Ewe, more than 6,500 Ghanaians in the city speak Ewe at home.

“Add all the people that speak the language from Togo, and that number increases proportionally,” said Darko, who handles immigration cases.

Adding Ewe to its language repertoire shows that the NYPD acknowledges the growing importance to communicate with the city’s Ghanaian and Togolese communities, Darko added.

Ghana native and NYPD recruit Murtala Suraju, 30, had no idea he would be one of the first two city cops to know Ewe.

“I just filled out a form on how many languages I understand and speak,” said the Bronx resident, who also speaks Twi, Hausa and Kotokoli.

“Since I first got here in the late 1990s, I always had a passion to become a police officer. I know this is what I want to do.”

Suraju said he learned to speak Ewe while living in Ghana with his grandmother.

Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton swore in the recruits Thursday at Queens College. Out of the January class, 150 were born outside the United States — in 47 countries, de Blasio said.

Half the recruits are black or Hispanic and 20% are women, de Blasio said.

Posted by on Jan 26 2014. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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