By Mr. Andreas Kreuzer (Grafenwoehr)October 13, 2017
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- In almost no other institution in or outside the military is a partnership as engaged, interdependent and successful as the one between garrison military police here and German police departments of the surrounding area.
U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria's military police regularly team up with host nation police departments known as Polizei, as well as many other law enforcement organizations ensuring maximum safety, efficiency and friendship.
"Partnership and communication is key," said USAG Bavaria's top cop and director of the Directorate of Emergency Services, Lt. Col Mike "Heavy" Burden.
Burden has aimed to establish and enhance partnerships since only arriving during the summer of 2017. He recently hosted his first quarterly Police Chiefs Association Meeting to build off existing relationships and forge new commitments with key law enforcement leaders.
Discussion topics at these meetings illustrate the symbiotic relations necessary to fight crime and keep citizens safe -- both on- and off-post. At the next scheduled meeting, for example, both German and American law enforcement leaders will discuss policing statistics, German police patrol schedules of U.S. bus routes, abandoned pets, joint patrol efforts and German police investigations.
The goal at these meetings is to emphasize establishing direct lines of communication, Burden said.
"By incorporating more law enforcement leaders from all of the jurisdictions surrounding the USAG Bavaria community, DES can better support community readiness through enhanced emergency response, coordinated and rehearsed training events, and positive partnerships through regular engagements with local Polizei leaders," Burden said.
But the partnership extends far beyond the discussion table. Horse-mounted Polizei from Munich have been assisting MPs at the garrison's German-American Volksfest. German law enforcement and first responders participate annually in the garrison's force protection exercise. And leadership representing U.S. Army and German law enforcement convene annually for the garrison's Emergency Management Summit to share best practices and build a common operating picture.
Processes and police structures are also in place to ensure continued and sustainable relations. For a smooth operating law enforcement partnership, for example, a German Polizei liaison officer has an office physically located at USAG Bavaria's MP station. The German liaison -- who speaks both German and English -- works closely with the U.S. liaison officer, and both pull data from the same systems and files.
The German Polizei liaison offers service within the USAG Bavaria footprint. The liaison, for example, assists U.S. military personnel and their families receiving letters or forms from the German Polizei.
This is not a one way road. U.S. Army MPs often support the German Polizei.
Compared to the U.S., where MP responsibilities end outside installation gates, USAG Bavaria MPs can take over off-post police activities in some specially-defined cases, such as in off-post housing areas or in cases involving only people protected by the Status of Forces Agreement.
And no two agencies could work effectively together without regular training.
Combined training, like K9 training, supports shared goals in safety and readiness. U.S. Army military police within the garrison train regularly with German Polizei counterparts. But it doesn't end there.
Recently, MPs at Hohenfels worked alongside and assisted an element of Dutch Military Police in support of Exercise Swift Response 2017. And just this past summer, the USAG Bavaria MP force augmented emergency services and law enforcement measures at the new Novo Selo Training Area in Bulgaria.
"Community safety is absolutely our number one priority. It's what we think about every single day. It's job number one," said Col. Lance Varney, USAG Bavaria commander. "We are very closely integrated with our host nation based on the strength and our partnership with the German authorities, their emergency management systems. We integrate very well to bring that safety within all our communities."