SEATTLE – Under a thatched-roof outside Kandahar, an American military leader sits down with a civil leader to discuss local security issues. Thousands of miles away in a city filled with skyscrapers a police officer sits down with community leaders to discuss local concerns. While the location may be different, the problems can be very similar.
Leadership from the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, traveled to the West Seattle police precinct to pick the brains of officers there on policing procedures, April 9, before its deployment to Afghanistan. Subject matter experts from the Seattle Police Department Community Policing Team, Homeland Security Border Police and the Counter Narcotics Taskforce presented information on their respective fields.
The battalion will be partnered with Afghan Border Police during its deployment to Afghanistan and any information that the police can pass on will help, said Lt. Col. Tim Davis, commander, 1-17th Inf.
There are huge differences between cities in America and cities Afghanistan including the difference in infrastructure and the cultural ways that individuals deal with each other.
However some ideas transcend cultural differences like the old saying, “Treat everyone as you would like to be treated,” said Paul Gracy, Community Police Team, Seattle Police Department.
“I deal with communities that are hostile towards us on a regular basis,” said Gracy. “We are trying to give the soldiers a few ideas on how you can get to know the citizens a little better and some of the things that have worked for us and what hasn’t.”
The Seattle police department gave the leaders of 1-17th Inf. tips not only on community relations but also on unit organization, crime reporting and collecting evidence.
“Understanding how police operate here in the US gives my leaders different mental models that they can draw from,” said Davis. “Some of the biggest points I took away from the training was to: setting up a program for continuing education in our environment, being protectors of the citizens, treating people fairly and professionally and one of Paul’s rules, ‘Their problem is your problem.’ ”
Afghanistan is one of the largest producers of opium in the world and the opium producers have to move the drugs to other markets, according to the Central Intelligence Agency 2012 fact book.
The Counter Narcotics Taskforce representative explained to the soldiers different methods that smugglers might use to export their product and passed on some of their prior experiences, said Pablo Lee, Seattle Police Department.
The soldiers of 1-17th Inf. are not police officers; however they know how to provide security for the people and themselves. In addition, providing security for the Afghan people will require these soldiers to work closely with the Afghan National Police. Training such as they received in West Seattle will aid in those relationships.
The police gave the military leaders as much knowledge as they could in an eight-hour class and advised the leaders to take the concepts presented and narrow the ideas to the given situations they will face in Afghanistan.
“It’s nice to have our training principals and approaches that we have in place already reinforced by the police department,” said Davis.