Mamadou Diallo’s dream started when he was just eight years old.
His family had just moved from West Africa to the United States.
“I was amazed by the uniform,” Diallo recalls.
They say first impressions last and for Diallo, it altered the course of his life.
“What I saw here was something that I wanted to be a part of,” Diallo says of the Moline Police Department.
At eight years old, heand his family moved to from Guinea to Moline.
“The apartments where I used to stay, there used to be a substation at that location, so I had the opportunity to interact with many of the officers. Being new and not speaking the language, which is a little bit different, but somehow they always found a way,” Diallo says.
For the last 13 years, Diallo has excelled in school and overcome his biggest obstacle: A language barrier… All with the badge in mind.
“Maybe one day I could be that guy,” he remembers thinking.
That day came this week, when Diallo officially became a Moline police officer.
“I know I got sworn in just a few days ago but it still hasn’t sunk in,” he says.
He’s is also making history as the department’s first Muslim cop.
“I would guess that 13 years ago when his parents moved here, they never would’ve imagined this would happen,” says Detective Mike Griffin with Moline Police.
The moment is not lost on Griffin, who says the young officer is already a role model.
“He’s looked at as a celebrity. He went and spoke to English as a Second Language classes and for them to see… Think about it, 13 years ago he had no comprehension of the english language and six months from now he’s going to be driving around in a patrol car by himself as a police officer in America,” Griffin says.
And as Griffin shows this rookie the ropes, the 15-year-veteran says he’s learning a few things, too.
“I’ve learned a lot about Ramadan, fasting, I’ve learned about Guinea, and Konarky… It broadens our ability to serve,” Griffin says.
Diallo recognizes this isn’t just a big moment for himself.
“My parents were really excited. Family and friends– I know people at my local mosque are really, really, like extremely excited. Many of the people who saw the post on Facebook… Let’s just say I had a lot of hugs, to say the least,” Diallo says.
But to him, making history is secondary.
“I just see myself as another person, just another police officer,” Diallo says.
And he can’t help but smile finally saying those words out loud.
“I’m a police officer,” he says.
Diallo now heads to Champaign, Illinois, where he’ll be training for the next 14 weeks.