Colombian and Miami Police Participate in Joint Training
By Dialogo October 28, 2011
Armed to the teeth, five police officers burst into an apparently abandoned house. At the front of the group, one of the men moves forward, protected by a shield. On a hot Miami afternoon, beads of sweat trickle down under their helmets while the group opens doors, searches every possible hiding place, and shouts orders in Spanish. The action suddenly freezes when, from above, an instructor makes recommendations and asks for the exercise to be repeated.
The scene took place at the facilities of the Miami-Dade Police Training Center, where members of the Colombian National Police participated in a joint training course organized by Special Operations Command South, part of the U.S. Southern Command.
The other partner in the joint course, conceived as an exchange of information and lessons learned during years of operations against drug trafficking in both countries, was a group from the Miami-Dade Police Special Response Team, among the United States’ most distinguished. At the end of the year, the same group will visit Colombia to learn about policing in rural areas.
In this initial part of the course, the training concentrated on police operations in urban environments. The Colombian team was made up of nine police officers from the Jungle Reconnaissance Company, specialized in fighting criminal gangs, guerrilla groups, and drug trafficking; four members of the Special Operations Command (COPES), responsible for carrying out high-risk missions; and four members of the Paramilitary Police (Carabineros) and Rural Safety Directorate, which works in rural and border areas.
“We’ve learned techniques that will enable us to be at the forefront of police forces around the world,” affirmed Lieutenant Carlos González, a member of the Jungle Reconnaissance Company. “Although our work is done fundamentally in the jungle, we need to know about the urban side, since that’s where the white-collar criminals who are behind what happens in the jungle are,” he added.
According to Lt. González, the group that visited Miami was chosen on the basis of merit in carrying out their responsibilities, results on a test of physical skills, and individual ability to learn and share the information received. The objective, he said, is for them to transmit what they have learned to the Colombian National Police tactical community.
For his part, Lieutenant Jorge Herrera, head of training for the Miami-Dade Police Special Response Team, explained that his group contributed their professional and personal experience about how to respond to high-risk situations on buses, in buildings, and in other urban environments, to which they are accustomed. “Nevertheless, they can teach us a lot when it comes to how to behave in rural environments. Their work is as important as ours, and they show the same professionalism and the same passion that we do, although in different environments,” he commented.
Among the most valuable lessons they will take back to their country, the Colombian police officers mentioned the techniques for searching buses without compromising the safety of innocent people, tactical negotiation skills, and technological advances such as a small robot that enables the police to see what is happening in a location before sending in personnel.