By Pfc. Bailey Jester
1st Cavalry Division, Public Affairs
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Police officers from the Austin Police Department visited the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division from Nov. 13 to 21.
For the last five years, the officers from the Austin Police Department have played a key role preparing Fort Hood leaders for their complex mission in Iraq.
The Austin police provided specialized instruction on community policing and patrolling in conflicted neighborhoods during the Austin City Manager's course, which assisted military leaders during the pre-deployment training in Texas. Assisting Fort Hood's units with these courses created a lasting relationship between them and the Army post.
As a result of this relationship, Col. Tobin Green, commander of the 1st Brigade, invited the Austin Police Department to come to Baghdad to observe the interactions between the Iraqi Security Forces, local nationals, and the U.S. Army.
"Our mission is to see how the Iraqi authorities interact with each other and the U.S. Army," said Fort Worth native, David Carter, chief of staff for the Austin Police Department. "Once we are able to watch and analyze the relationship we will work from there."
Green asked for the Austin police officers to observe the units most heavily involved with the Iraqi authorities and the community said Maj. Daniel Fuhr, the brigade's civil military operations coordinator. After analyzing their relationships, they will report any observations they see to the commander.
During their visit, the police officers were given the opportunity to visit many different areas where the Iraqi police and Iraqi army are closely involved with the surrounding communities.
"The IA and IP that are visited by the police officers feel honored to have their units selected for these visits," Fuhr explains. "To them it's a big deal to have a chief and his lieutenant (from the U.S.) over here visiting them."
The police officers patrolled through the community of Sha'ab with the Iraqi police's, who handed out water purifiers and food. They also had the opportunity to speak with a few adults about the increased security and stability.
During one part of their visit, they visited Joint Security Station Rasheed where Jesse Burchwell, a civilian law enforcement professional gave the two officers a tour of an Iraqi army detainee holding cell.
"It was interesting to see how they handle their detainees," Carter said. "It's different from the way we do it in the U.S., but it's effective for them."
After participating in these events with the Iraqis, the Austin Police officers sat and talked with the Iraqi leaders to gain a better understanding of the local judicial system, to get the Iraqi Security Force's opinion on the current policing system and their relationship with the U.S. forces.
"I am really impressed with the way the ISF work with the people," said Austin native, Lt. Stephen Deaton during a conversation with Sheik Amir Iraqi Police Commander Maj. Thamir after patrolling the streets of Taji market.
Although many shops were closed, and few people were on the streets, it was still easy to see how the people react to the ISF in the area, Carter said.
"While we have been here, we have learned as much about leadership as you can get," said Deaton, assigned to the Austin Police Department. "It won't be hard to talk positively about the ISF over here in our classes."
The experience the police officers gained from this 10-day trip to Baghdad will be used in their city's management course, where policing is a key component. The Austin Police Department uses this course to prepare U.S. Army units for deployments, Fuhr explained.
"The units we saw have a great relationship with the local ISF," said Deaton. "I'm impressed and will definitely speak well of them in our class when we return."
The goal of the visit was to determine the most successful ways to teach effective policing skills to the ISF, but they learned as much as they planned to teach, Deaton explained.
"We will definitely return home and will have learned something," said Carter. "We came looking to teach, but instead we were taught."
"This trip really helped us be able to see the way things are done through an Austin lens and an Iraqi lens," said Deaton. "It helps us better our understandings of the way things are done over here and to prepare us to teach the units preparing to come over here."