TIKRIT, Iraq (Feb. 14, 2008) -- When 1st Armored Division arrived almost five months ago, this city had a reputation as place where insurgents and murders were commonplace, and as the birthplace of Saddam Hussein.

Today Tikrit is blooming with life, and its citizens are enjoying improvements in its security and economy. Part of the credit for that reversal of fortune is owed to the Soldiers of the 501st Military Police Company.

"We patrol throughout neighborhoods for 24 hours to weed out potential threats to the city's growth and stabilization," said Pfc. Derek White, a gunner in the 501st. "We know this is an important task and we are glad we can do it."

The MPs sometimes join forces with the Iraqi Police and on their daily patrols.

"We conduct dismounted and mounted patrols through the city to give us the opportunity to interact with the public and let them see we are doing a wonderful thing for them," said 1st Lt. Josephine Hix, 4th platoon leader for the 501st.

The MPs are familiar faces to the residents, as they constantly wave, smile or stop to talk with them as they patrol the city's neighborhoods. Children run to the Soldiers and thank them.

"We conduct these patrols to protect the residents and to find out if there are any threats to Iraqi Police and coalition forces," said Sgt. James Lawrence, a squad leader in the 501st's 4th platoon. "We are glad to be part of this operation and we enjoy learning a lot about the area."

"I am proud of the (501st) for everything they have done," Lawrence said. "They are young Soldiers but they have adapted well and shown resiliency. The city of Tikrit is becoming alive again and it's in great part due to these patrols."

The 501st, an element of 1st Armored Division's Special Troops Battalion, is a U.S. Army Europe unit headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany.