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NEWS | April 6, 2010

Alabama Guard helps Iraqi highway patrol

By Sgt. Rebekah Lampman 103rd Public Affairs Detachment

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, - A blue police truck rolls up to the scene. With sirens blazing and an Iraqi flag displayed prominently on the doors, the vehicle comes to a screeching halt.

With weapons at the ready, three Iraqi highway patrol officers jump out, yelling "get out of the car" and "put your hands where I can see them."

As the training scenario continued, National Guard Soldiers from the 217th Military Police Company from the Alabama National Guard oversaw the action, ensuring the highway patrol officers followed proper procedure.

For the past six months, the MPs have been assisting 16 IHP officers from seven Iraqi police stations in Baghdad as they conduct a variety of training events, said Sgt. Matthew Glassford, an MP with the 217th and a deputy sheriff in Shelby County, Ala.

"We don't have bombs or improvised explosive devices back in the states so it's challenging," said Glassford. "When we train we have to go into more details, but the basics are still the same."

The IPs are perfecting their basic police skills such as properly conducting a traffic stop, serving a search warrant and writing tickets. As the highway patrol officers move through their training process, 2nd Lt. Joseph Bennett, a platoon leader with the 217th MP Company, said the IHP are dedicated to the training and have dramatically improved their skills.

"You can see that they take the training to heart," said Bennett. "They really enjoy the hands on portion of the training more than the classroom. When we get to that part of the training they really seem to shine."

After a few more weeks of practical exercises, Glassford and the rest of his platoon will conduct a ride along with the IHP out in the streets of Baghdad putting their months of training to the test. And the Iraqi police say they are ready to serve the public.

"For the 217th, all of the hard work they've done for us, we will not fail," said Brig. Gen. Muhamed Kutafa Mashlesh, commander of the seven Iraqi police stations involved in the training.

"We will not forget what they have shown us, and we will be better for our country and our people," he said.