By By Nancy K. Lane
Missouri National Guard
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Missouri National Guard State Partnership Program recently welcomed members of the Panamanian Ministry of Public Safety and Panamanian National Police to Jefferson City March 2.
The visit focused on the Missouri State Highway Patrol's professional standards and internal affairs investigations.
"The State Partnership Program is a tenant of Department of Defense security cooperation and links National Guard states and territories with partner countries for the purpose of fostering mutual interests, establishing habitual long-term relationships and providing international security and stability," said Lt. Col. Rebecca Segovia, Missouri State Partnership Program director.
There are currently 62 countries partnered with different state National Guards, Segovia said. Missouri and Panama have been partners since 1996, and previous exchanges have included emergency preparadeness, disaster response, medical and leadership exchanges.
Panamanian members representing the Ministry of Public Safety were Julissa Centeno, director of special projects; Leonard Paul, attorney; and Carlos Rios. Representing the Panamanian National Police were Licenciada Kauris Amador; lawyer and director of internal affairs; and Ileana Castillo.
The Missouri Highway Patrol Academy hosted three days with the visitors trading information and providing tours of the forensic facilities.Â
"I appreciate the opportunity to visit with the group from Panama in order I can explain what I do," said Sgt. Mike Turner, a road officer with the Missouri Highway Patrol.
The information exchanges go in both directions. Six years ago, Turner traveled to Panama with the State Partnership Program to learn how the Panamanian police operate.Â
The Panamanians also visited the Missouri Information Analysis Center which is housed at the Missouri National Guard Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City. The center combines intelligence information with 71 other centers across the nation to share at both state-wide and nationally levels.
Paul, of the Ministry of Public Safety, stated that the ministry was recently established as a branch of the Panamanian government. As such, they are looking for ways to improve their functionality. Paul was part of the December visit.
"The information we receive is going to help us in the transformation of the structure of the ministry," Paul said.Â
The trip concluded the following day by visiting Troop F Headquarters of the Missouri Highway Patrol. After a presentation was made by Col. Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, regarding professional standards and internal affairs investigations, the Panamanian officials toured the patrol museum.