Once a refugee from Ethiopia, now a law enforcer in a small town in America

by Selam
Seifu Ragassa prepares for the next step in his career and will be the new chief of the Department of Probation and Parole in Carroll County. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)

Seifu Ragassa promoted to chief of Parole and Probation in Carroll County


LACONIA — Belknap county’s loss is Carroll County’s gain as probation and parole officer Seifu Ragassa readies to take over as chief of the Ossipee office next week.

Ragassa has been a New Hampshire Department of Probation and Parole officer in the Laconia office for seven years. Prior to his joining Probation and Parole, he was a sergeant at the now-closed Lakes Region State Correctional Facility.

“I never thought I would be here right now,” he said Tuesday while sitting at his desk for his final days in the Laconia office. “And in law enforcement.”

Ragassa is an Ethiopian refugee who was a freelance journalist in the late 1990s who fled to Kenya after has name was listed by the Ethiopian government as someone they wanted to kill.

He said during his time growing up in Ethiopia, the police were the people who tried to kill him for speaking out against the government, and that’s why he never imagined he would work in law enforcement.

During his stay in Kenya, Ragassa was able to stay out of the refugee camps by working with American Embassy personnel who were investigating the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. He still assists U.S. counterintelligence agents when he can.

“It was those Americans who kept me and my younger brother safe,” Ragassa said.

When it was time for him to go to Australia as a refugee, he said one of his close American friends who was an FBI agent in Nairobi asked him if he wanted to go to America instead. He did.

Ragassa settled in the Laconia area and began working with community-based organizations and law enforcement to help make the transition for other refugees easier.

His degree counted for only one year in American colleges, so he continued his studies, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and two master’s degrees in business and criminal justice.
Despite his pending work move to Ossipee, Ragassa said he will continue his work with the Laconia Human Relations Committee, the Lakes Region Leadership Group, Genesis, and the Laconia Refugee Connections Committee.

Ragassa said he is grateful to the law enforcement community in Belknap County, especially its judges, Belknap County Attorney Melissa Guldbrandsen, the lead attorney for the state Public Defender’s Office Jesse Friedman, his supervisor Serene Eastman, and Jacqui Abikoff, who he calls the backbone of the community, of Horizons Counseling Center.

Ragassa, his wife and children live in Gilford.

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