FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) -- Northern Virginia has struggled to recruit Asian Americans in law enforcement, officials told WUSA9.
That's why it was an especially proud moment for the area, when two Asian American officers graduated from the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy on Friday.
Loudoun County Deputy James Lim and Arlington County Officer Moses Kang go from recruit to rookie in their respective agencies.
Deputy James Lim, Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, ""It's awesome. I've been dreaming about this for a while."
Fairfax County Major Gun Lee looks on with pride, even though these new officers will be working in neighboring agencies.
"I'm recruiting now. While we're celebrating Deputy Lim's graduation, tomorrow I'd like to give him a call and transfer him to Fairfax. All joking aside, we are happy for him. We need to do more," Lee said.
Lee rose through the ranks to Major. He is the highest ranking Asian American in the region.
"For people to see someone from their own community who's risen to a high command level and administrative rank as a role model," saidDwight Bower, Fairfax County Police Recruiting Director.
Asian Americans (18%) are the largest minority group in Fairfax County with Koreans and Vietnamese making up the majority, yet they only make up a fraction (4%) of the police force.
"It wasn't very long time ago when we'd respond to calls for police services in the Asian community and that at times been challenging to break that cultural or linguistic or communication barriers," Lee said.
Fairfax County Police had a hard time connecting with the Asian community after a Korean acupuncturist was murdered inside her home-based business on Hummer Road in Annandale back in 2009.
"Within Northern Virginia many of the Asian residents have come from countries where law enforcement is not an honorable profession. In many instances, they are viewed as corrupt or oppressive instruments of the state."
Dwight Bower is the recruiting director for Fairfax County Police and says these are the challenges they need to overcome in connecting with the community and getting a more diverse force.
But with Major Gun Lee, as an example, and these new officers as some of the newest and brightest will help bridge the gap.