In the vibrant city of Philadelphia, a humble police officer has been making waves in the Cambodian community. Officer Chanta Ung, a 16-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, has been utilizing his unique cultural background and linguistic skills to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the Asian community in the city.
Born in Cambodia, Chanta Ung and his family sought refuge in the United States, fleeing the war that ravaged their homeland in 1979. Growing up as a Cambodian American refugee, Ung understood the challenges faced by immigrants adapting to a new life in a foreign country. This understanding would later become the foundation of his unwavering dedication to the community he serves.
Initially assigned to the 14th district in Germantown, Officer Ung requested a transfer to the 3rd district in South Philadelphia several years ago, due to its sizable Asian and immigrant population. “I figured I’d come out here, maybe they could relate better with us, with the police,” he explained.
Every day, Ung patrols 7th Street, checking in on the Asian American businesses to ensure their well-being. He speaks to Cambodians in their native language, Khmer, and follows the custom of addressing older women with the respectful term “Ming.” Chansothy Sok, the owner of Soriya Bridal, praised Officer Ung’s commitment: “He helps, yeah. When he comes, he goes to my store, Ming, OK? Ming, OK?”
Officer Ung’s presence has made a tangible impact on the community. Many residents in his district feel intimidated calling 911 due to language barriers, but they comfortably share their concerns and issues with Ung. He directs them to resources and provides assistance with quality of life matters, such as trash disposal, drug-related issues, and more.
The Pan Asian Association of Greater Philadelphia recently recognized Officer Ung’s exceptional work with an Outstanding Community Service Award. Sarun Chan, from the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, nominated him, stating, “With a lot of the gun violence and community violence that’s plaguing our city, having an individual that does great community policing, that is ingrained not only on the streets, as a police officer, but as a community member himself, really, really resonated with what we thought would be a great outstanding community service award.”
Officer Chanta Ung’s tireless efforts and devotion to the Cambodian community have made him an unsung hero. As he continues to serve with humility and dedication, his impact will undoubtedly resonate for generations to come.
Source: CBS News and Facebook page of Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia (CAGP)