Afro Swag Media & Magazine

The Ethnic Wave! Engage ~ Narrate ~ Empower

South Sudanese refugee gang specialist helps create bridges between communities

Gatlat Toang, OPD Gang Specialist

Gatlat is a current Liaison with the Omaha Police Department, OPD. He started working with OPD and subsequently, for the Boys & Girls club in November of 2019. He obtained his BA in communication with a minor in Business from Bellevue University also in 2019. Currently, he serves as a gang specialist, with OPD and Boys & Girls club of the Midlands.

When asked, Gatlat will tell you that he “feels called” for his job; that he did not have to chase after it, rather, it came to find him: “I felt it was something God chose for me.” Even though he tried to justify his way out of it, he is glad and is fulfilled to have followed his calling. He credits his strong upbringing and the early challenges he faced in his own life growing up, as one of the qualifiers for this position. In his current position, and especially with the Boys & Girls club of the Midlands, Gatlat interacts with a population of vulnerable young people in the Omaha community. Having moved to a different country himself early on, and learning new ways of life as a young person, Gatlat can identify with some of the challenges these young people face when going through those vulnerable teenage years. He remembered being confronted with making “adult decisions” while still pretty young himself and how frightening it was. And for most of the young people he deals with, Gatlat believes he can leverage those early personal challenges and impact lives in a positive way. As this generation of young people are being pushed to grow faster than past generations, the work that Gatlat and his team do, help bridge the gap whether through enforcement of the law when called for, or through mentorship.

While he believes, this need not be a race, but rather a coalition and a collaboration among us in the Diaspora, Gatlat is aware of what is at stake, or where we have come from. The reality is that there is a gap and it needs to be closed, therefore, we must build leaders who can help narrow the gap. Gatlat would like to see more people in the Diaspora continue to come together to fight for Africa and continue to tell our story and change the narrative. While his efforts to impact the community and the Diaspora are still fairly in the inception stage, Gatlat definitively plans to make his marks by positively affecting the young vulnerable population. He is by then joining in changing the narrative in the Diaspora.

Gatlat hopes to add values to the lives of the one he serves and to the community. Through mentoring, he encourages education for all children. He believes, education helps the youth have a strong foundation and a sense of pride in their community and the desire to make it better. Gatlat said, without a strong foundation, our youth will not succeed and our society will feel the repercussions. Through his work, he has come to understand that each person he serves has his/her uniqueness way of assimilating information. By treating each person as an individual case through relationship buildings, Gatlat has been able to reach out to many in our community. Gatlat’s own unique ability to relate to people and adapt in various circumstances, has enabled him to build great relationships with his team and co-workers. On his team, he serves with fellow officers and leaders who empower him to be the best at what he does. The role of the team Gatlat works with at Boys and Girls Club, and OPD is to help him find at risk and or troubled young people who would benefit from their services. This includes, finding them a safe place to stay, learn, as well as play. His future plans would be to partner and form an alliance with like-minded people who can help him turn the community around.