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Police Task Force Helps Train Bosnians

By Sgt. Janet S. Peters, USA
American Forces Press Service

TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Oct. 12, 1996 – Cooperation is a key word for the future of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was stressed often during a recent meeting between Bosnian police and the first U.S. Army Civil Affairs team assigned to work with them.

 

While the war-torn country has found a respite thanks to Operation Joint Endeavor, its people are attempting to put their lives back together. To encourage this, the United Nations founded the International Police Task Force in 1995 to train the Bosnian police force with civilian concepts of policing.

 

Lt. Col. Larry E. Rogers and Maj. Robert Garland Jr., both Army reservists and former civilian policemen, came to Tuzla to share their experience and knowledge with the task force and local law enforcement officials.

 

Rogers, with the 360th Civil Affairs Brigade from Columbia, S.C., was a police officer for five years. Garland is from the 352nd Civil Affairs Command out of Riverdale, Md., and served for over 10 years in law enforcement. Both hold degrees in criminal justice.

 

"The Bosnian police have no internal [standard operating procedures] to tell them how to handle certain situations," said Rogers, now president of a company that develops programs of instruction for insurance and stock broker courses. "[The task force] is formulating the direction they want to go with that and then we will sit down with them to work on the plan itself."

 

Every morning, the two reservists head to downtown Tuzla, where they share an office with task force Operations Officer Timothy Garille. Others they work with in the Tuzla region office of the task force are assistant directors Jim R. Lyons, a Texas police chief, and Kjell Brandin of Sweden.

 

"These guys have been a great help to us since they’ve been here," said Lyons. "As soon as they hit the ground they were offering suggestions and ideas. They will be an additional set of eyes and ears and hands."

 

One project Rogers and Garland are working on is establishing a more efficient radio coding system. This will cut radio traffic. Another area of focus for the team is threat assessment or analyzing predictors to evaluate possible future events.

 

"The region covers about 22,000 square kilometers, and it takes up to three hours to drive from regional headquarters to other areas because of the bad roads," said Lyons. "Evacuation is difficult because communications are so bad. The crucial time will be the weeks before the local elections, to safeguard the [task force] in the field."

 

Safeguarding people and information is something Garland deals with in his civilian career as a security specialist for the Defense Mapping Agency. "This lets me utilize and share my skills while we’re here and get to see things from their perspective," Garland said.

 

The soldiers and task force representatives had the chance to become familiar with the local perspective at their initial meeting with Anto Pranjic, deputy minister of police for the Tuzla region. "IFOR stepped in to do the job in January, then [the task force] followed," Pranjic said. "What we have done is provide citizens with good security. There is no case we could not solve with [the task force] and [NATO's implementation force]. I wish we had the same kind of cooperation all over Bosnia."

 

The deputy minister reminded those attending the meeting there is still a lot of work to do and asked for their support to help implement the federal constitution and improve the proficiency of the police. Their final goal, he said, is to have tourists visit their country’s mountains and rivers, and to discover the soul of Bosnia.

 

"We’ve received a warm reception and outstanding cooperation from [task force] and the Tuzla police," said Rogers. "It works so well because we’re all professionals and we want the same thing -- safety for the people. Honest cooperation is the only way to get things accomplished."

(Sgt. Janet S. Peters writes for 350th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, currently assigned in Bosnia-Herzegovina.)

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