By Chrystal Smith (USAG Wiesbaden)December 4, 2009
WIESBADEN, Germany - To teach the best methods, one should learn from the source.
That's what Military Police from the 1st Armored Division and 501st Military Police Company did Nov. 18 during an orientation and training observation tour of the West Hessen Polizei headquarters and training center.
"There are two takeaways ... we strengthen our partnership, and we see firsthand how a civilian law enforcement agency does it," said Maj. Glenn Schmick, 1AD provost marshal.
Schmick said the unit will be responsible for training Iraqi civilian policemen during their upcoming deployment. "It's vital for us MPs because it keeps us current on law enforcement issues."
The exchange event began at the West Hessen Polizei Headquarters in Wiesbaden-Schierstein where the American law enforcers were welcomed by the chief of police, received a background briefing, an abbreviated history of the organization, a summary of operations, a review of major and minor crimes in the organization's jurisdiction, a brief tour of the command and control center, and a session in which the group observed training at the police training center.
The military law enforcers queried the Polizei's representative about the rank system, organizational structure, jurisdiction, pay and training requirements for German officers.
During review of the crime statistics, the Polizei representative pointed out that crimes committed by Americans - service members, family members and Department of Defense civilians - have significantly decreased through the years as compared to earlier times of the U.S. forces' presence in the country that dates back to the 1950s, a change the U.S. officials attributed to operations tempo and current Soldier demographics.
"With the division headquarters present, you now have a more mature group of Soldiers here," said Sgt. Maj. Walter Richards, 501st provost marshal.
"We have a little more mature-aged Soldier enlisting and we're busier," said Schmick.
Other Polizei statistics showed that the organization averages more than an 85 percent success rate in solving major crimes such as murder, sexual assault, domestic violence and child pornography.
West Hessen Polizei public affairs officer and press officer Oliver Welpot said that as a result of crime statistics analysis, additional measures have been taken by the Polizei in the area of traffic law enforcement.
"These numbers justify the addition of traffic cameras and other law enforcement measures," said Welpot. "The things we're doing on the highways ... (unmarked police cars) are looking for speeders and incidents of drivers overtaking on the right side for example."
Welpot and his police brethren also freely discussed cultural differences in American and German laws and how ignorance of those differences could lead to offenses and prosecution of Americans living and visiting the region.
Examples given were prostitution, carrying specific weapons, justified force and what kind of mace or pepper sprays is legal to use on humans.
The visit concluded at the Polizei training center, Einsatztrainingszentrum. The MPs observed as Polizei completed training in which forces responded to an active-shooter scenario such as those that occurred at Colombine, Virginia Technical University and most recently at Fort Hood, Texas.
"It's not too far-fetched that this would happen," said Richards, who noted the importance of the day by relating it to the unit's upcoming deployment responsibilities.
As they observed the training the policemen noted techniques that were similar and asked questions about particular procedures the host nation forces used.
"It's a little different than the way we train and execute. I'm used to tactical so we'd be quick and more aggressive," said 2nd Lt. Elizabeth VanHeusden, 4th Platoon leader, 501st Military Police Company. "We're going to take a different mindset, because we're training civilians differently from the way I would train my guys."
"A lot of their techniques are not only different, but they're also better - a great way to prepare my troops is to see one of the best in the world in their environment," said Schmick.