A diverse class of 12 full-time Metro Transit Police Department officers was sworn in Thursday at the Union Depot in St. Paul, including the state’s first female Somali-American officer.

Officer Kadra Mohamed and her classmates will join a force of more than 200 full- and part-time police officers who work in the transit system, which includes both light rail and buses.

The recruits “truly represent, in many ways, all of the diversity of the Twin Cities area,” said Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington, adding that the class includes officers who speak two or even three languages. “It really does mean that when we have a passenger whose primary language is Spanish, or Somali, or Hmong or Arabic, we can now directly communicate with them.”

Many of the city’s newest immigrant residents are regular users of public transportation, Harrington said. Having Mohamed on the force will not only help ease communication barriers, but also help female Somali-American customers who might not feel comfortable talking to a male officer because of religious or cultural taboos.

“Both culturally and linguistically, Ms. Mohamed really does give us some great opportunities to make sure we are serving all of the transit-riding public,” Harrington said.

The other officers sworn in Thursday were Michael Affeldt, Joseph Carchedi, Benjamin Ellringer, Haissan Hussein, James Menter, Christopher Miles, Juan Peralta, Garrin Silbernagel, Dmitriy Vecherkov, Richard Wegner and Meng Yang.