By Dijon Rolle, USAG Baden-Wuerttemberg Public AffairsJanuary 18, 2012
HEIDELBERG, Germany (Jan. 18, 2012) -- A few short weeks ago, the streets of downtown Heidelberg were filled with hundreds of holiday revelers shopping and sharing the magic of the season.
In their midst stood members of the 529th Military Police Company and the local German Polizei.
Their joint patrols in downtown Heidelberg during the Christmas market season provided a presence demonstrating a partnership formed to keep the community safe.
"The joint patrols further foster greater and better understanding for both agencies about the needs of the other one. It also demonstrates to the U.S. military police how the German police operate and increases overall security, safety and cooperation," said Polizeihauptmeister Sven Stadtrecher, German police liaison officer.
Stadtrecher added that joint patrols were conducted regularly until the late '80s and that there have been random ride-alongs and joint patrols in the Heidelberg area for the last four to five years.
Regular Christmas market patrols were conducted for the first time this past year.
In early November, Pfc. Jacob Dummitt was notified that he would be one of the Soldiers participating.
"I enjoyed going out," Dummitt said. "It was different for me because I was used to working on post where you know everybody and you're a bit more comfortable with everyone, but working downtown, you don't always know what's going on."
The Metropolis, Ill., native said he relied heavily on his knowledge of "working the road" to help him navigate the crowded cobblestone streets of downtown Heidelberg on foot and to handle a swarm of local children that surrounded him and Stadtrecher upon sight.
During their shifts, patrol members focused on providing support to U.S. civilians and military personnel downtown and if necessary, assisting local authorities with processing them for committing crimes and misdemeanors.
Both Stadtrecher and Dummitt admitted they noticed more than a few stares as they made their way through the heart of Heidelberg's annual Christmas market but overall the response to their presence was positive.
"It's good for us as military police to go out and put a face on what we do and interact with the local population and experience their culture," Dummitt said.
Stadtrecher has 17 years of experience in law enforcement, six of those on the streets of Heidelberg.
"It was very positive and very welcoming. Many were surprised to see the patrols but they thought it was a great idea. This could be said for both German and U.S. citizens," Stadtrecher said. "Many German citizens also expressed their sadness about the U.S. Army leaving Heidelberg in the near future."
Stadtrecher added there are plans to continue to conduct the joint patrols randomly on Friday and Saturday nights in the downtown Heidelberg area and again during this year's holiday season.