America Supports You: Michigan Police Help Iraqi Colleagues
By Paul X. Rutz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 19, 2006 A Michigan police officer says he has found his calling in the effort to foster a democratic Iraq and ultimately bring America's troops home.
Iraqi police officers and Army Lt. Col. Alfred Bazzinotti, commander of 519th Military Police Battalion, hold up police uniforms in Baghdad. Coordinated by police Sgt. Ed Hude, members of several Michigan police departments have been sending body armor, handcuffs, uniforms and other items to help supply Iraqi police since October. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Since October, Sgt. Ed Hude, a 31-year veteran with the Mason, Mich., police department, has been sending special supplies to help American military police train and equip their Iraqi colleagues.
"The ultimate goal is to support the troops and get these Iraqi police officers up and on the run as fast as we can so we can get our military personnel home as soon as possible," Hude told American Forces Press Service in a telephone interview.
The idea began in March 2005, when Hude's son, Edward Hude Jr., was deployed to Baghdad with the Michigan Army National Guard. While working with a military police unit, Hude Jr. asked his father to send used handcuffs and other equipment to augment the backlogged supply system for the new Iraqi police force.
Leery of sending such supplies to his son directly, which might appear improper, Hude began corresponding through his son's commanding officer, and eventually Michigan Rep. Mike Rodgers' office, before sending the first shipment of handcuffs in October.
After that first success, Hude decided to expand the effort. He sent e-mails to police departments throughout Michigan after checking with his chief of police, who supported the effort enthusiastically.
"On TV ... it appeared that the Iraqi police were using light blue shirts and probably dark blue pants," Hude said. He requested that area departments send uniforms of that type, as well as other police supplies. Soon, he received a big response from the chief of police in Lansing, Mich., whose department donated over 60 sets of used body armor and 100 serviceable police uniforms.
"We went through and screened the body armor," Hude said. "There's some current controversy about the chemical makeup of the vests." But all held up well to testing, he said.
Shipping the supplies to Baghdad was made easier thanks to United Parcel Service. The company's international shipping department donated $2,000 in services, helping the packages arrive by the end of November 2005.
Since then, Hude has continued to receive equipment from departments throughout the state. The effort contributes rechargeable flashlights, winter coats and even fingerprinting supplies, although sending them has been a difficult cost to bear.
"I've tried to encourage (other departments) to ship this equipment directly themselves to Baghdad," he said, adding that he promises to find a way to send the goods if his donors decide they cannot.
For the past six months, Hude's contact in Baghdad has been Army Maj. David Detz, executive officer of Task Force 519, a military police battalion, who spoke with American Forces Press Service from Baghdad.
"It's been a blessing to have Sergeant Hude take this effort ... and get all these guys to provide us supplies," Detz said. "(The Iraqis') supply system is catching up, but it's just taking a bit longer as they're trying to stand up this whole organization."
Detz said he hopes the connection between the Michigan police and those in Iraq will eventually become a stronger cooperation than simply sending supplies. "We're trying to train these guys on the rule of law and trying to get them from a paramilitary organization to a law enforcement organization," he said. He hopes connections with police in the U.S. will help the Iraqis learn to enforce the laws of a democracy.
And the Iraqis aren't the only people who feel Hude's effort. "It's very important for us, from our soldiers' standpoint, to know that guys like Sergeant Hude and his people are back there still thinking about us over here," he said.