Some of the recent recruits to Ukraine’s new police force are surprised to learn in their training that police are on duty to protect citizens and not government interests.
That is according to a trainer whose job it is to convince them that their most important tool is not the gun they carry, but their ability to talk.
“Being able to de-escalate situations, being able to prove that you actually care about [citizens]” is your strength, coaches Officer Jason Jared, who has come all the way from Sacramento, California, to Kyiv to offer hands-on instruction.
Jared is an officer with the California Highway Patrol, the largest police force in the U.S. and the inspiration for a 1980s-era television drama. He was joined in Kyiv by colleagues from his department and other trainers from Reno, Nevada, and Dayton, Ohio.
The U.S. trainers began working with the newly formed Ukrainian patrol police force in January. They have held monthlong sessions on patrol tactics — such as conducting car stops, handcuffing and defending against attacks — and on the arguably more important areas of customer service and communication.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the training aims to create a Western-model “protect and serve” force that will be free of the corruption and inefficiency of the past.
Jared and his colleagues have been impressed by the Ukrainian instructors with whom they are working. The Ukrainian officers have been quick to grasp new techniques despite language barriers. The new force of about 2,000 officers — 20 percent of whom will be women — is set to deploy in Kyiv by mid-June. Odessa, Kharkiv and other major cities throughout Ukraine will soon build their own new police forces.
Kyiv’s recruits are highly educated and excited about what the new patrol police represent for Ukraine’s future.
Jared said that for young Ukrainians who want to make a difference to every single person they meet and talk with, joining the new patrol police is a great step. There will be a “grass-roots push from the police force” to improve communication with citizens. “It’s absolutely going to be a great job,” he said.
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