Below are categories for questions that have been answered by community members. Keep in mind that the following responses may represent many members of this group but do not represent all people in a community. Not all people from diverse populations conform to commonly known culture-specific behaviors, beliefs and actions. Each person is an individual, as well as a community member.

What cultural / ethnic / religious traditions or beliefs should law enforcement be aware of?

  • Samoans are known for having close-knitted, big families and are taught to respect and honor elders. They are taught at a young age to care for and serve their elders.
  • Samoans can be of different religions.
  • They are very hospitable and hardworking, and are known to sacrifice a great deal for what they believe and value.
  • There are different layers of leadership in the Samoan community.
  • Tattoos are based on tribal affiliations.

What is the appropriate manner to greet you? (demeanor, non-verbal, body space, handshake, bow, male-female interaction etc.)

  • Explain why you are approaching and avoid walking in front of elders.
  • Youth will follow instructions based on how they are treated.
  • Family members are very close, try not to separate them or they will become defensive and protective.
  • Move quietly and do not rush or make any sudden, distracting movements.
  • Avoid making a lot of noise or any loud noises. It is considered rude and disrespectful. No hard banging on the door. Keep door tapping congenial and respectful to the family dwelling.

Who should be addressed or acknowledged first? Who is the head of the household?

  • Please wait to be invited into the household.
  • Always acknowledge the presence of elders. If you need to speak with a child, first ask for a parent or an elder and explain the situation. State the issues with the youth and your intention to follow-up with the family.
  • Youth may translate for elders or head of family, but the elder will identify who translates and sits with them.
  • Youth may translate for elders or head of family, but the elder will identify who translates and sits with them.
  • Do not interrupt an elder or leader; they expect the listener to be quiet when they are speaking. Avoid turning your backside to elders and when sitting, avoid having your back to anyone.
  • When they offer you any food or drink, it is most hospitable and respectful to receive it.

What is your view / perception of law enforcement? What has been your community's experience with law enforcement?

  • Samoan people often feel that law enforcement officers are intimidated by their size. Do not make assumptions about age or maturity based on size. Ask for age.
  • Elders are the authority figures in Samoa and are sought to resolve problems in their culture. In Samoa, elders did not have police. They lived in little villages with a mayor, who oversaw the village households and held family chiefs accountable for their family members' actions.
  • Samoans expressed feeling fear of the police because they occasionally perceive that police approach aggressively.
  • Law enforcement needs to recognize the importance of Samoan communal bonds and working with families.