St. Paul police will host their first halal cookout and police fair Saturday aimed at fostering relationships with the city's East African community.

The cookout will be at the Western District police station at 389 N. Hamline Av. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The food will be provided. Halal means the food and how it's processed is permissible under Islamic law. There will be a K-9 demonstration and representatives of the mounted patrol, SWAT team and bomb squad. Participants will be able to learn more about forensic investigation as well as crime prevention and future employment opportunities with the department.

"What we're trying to accomplish is building relationships between our East African community and our St. Paul Police Department," said Western District senior commander Todd Axtell.

The Western District has the largest concentration of East African residents in the city, Axtell said. He said he hopes the police fair will get more young people interested in working for the department.

"One thing that we are always trying to do at the St. Paul Police Department is become more reflective of our community," Axtell said.

According to census figures, Minnesota's Somali population is the nation's largest, with more than 32,000.

The city's first Somali-American officer started patrolling the Western District last year.

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