Boston police may soon be heading overseas to train foreign law enforcement
The Boston Police Department is set to join a US State Department initiative that will send officers overseas to train their foreign counterparts and build intelligence channels aimed at tracking international crime, a State Department official said.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis will formalize the agreement at a signing ceremony Monday, said Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield, who leads the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
Other large police departments — such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston — have used the partnership to develop information on narcotics trafficking channels and terrorism threats, said Brownfield.
“The events in Boston of three weeks ago show just how close the connection is between what happens overseas and what happens on our streets,” Brownfield said.
Davis and city officials had agreed to the partnership prior to the Boston Marathon bombings, but the attacks and subsequent revelations about Russian intelligence on alleged bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev drove home the need for international cooperation, said Brownfield.
Davis testified to Congress Thursday that he and his officers were not privy to information that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed during a police shootout days after the Marathon bombings, was placed on several terrorist watch lists after Russia warned US officials of his increasing radicalization.
In a statement Friday night, Davis said, “BPD has a long history of working with our law enforcement partners to fight crime. This new state department memorandum will help expand and create new opportunities to share knowledge and expertise with police departments and law enforcement agencies in other parts of the world.
“After the earthquake in Haiti several officers of Haitian descent met with me to express their desire to go back to their homeland to help,” he said. “That was impossible without an agreement in place. This new memorandum will allow officers with language skills and contacts to assist others the way we were helped during the Boston marathon bombings.“
Brownfield added, “The deal I offer to any police chief willing to sign [the agreement] is to give them the choice of where and when they would like to send their personnel. What most officers will do is training; sometimes it’s on tactics or police weapons; sometimes it’s forensic investigation.”
Officers from Los Angeles, for instance, have trained police in Laos and Thailand in containing gang violence, he said. In return, they bolstered their knowledge of Asian gangs in California.
Officers are deployed in teams, sometimes for several months, and work in advisory roles, seldom joining their trainees on patrols or other operations, Brownfield said. The State Department covers the cost.
“We don’t send US law enforcement officers overseas to put them in harm’s way,” Brownfield said. “I will not ask a Boston police officer to put him or herself in danger in any way.
However, he said, after the signing ceremony Monday his agency will honor several participating officers who died overseas.Todd Feathers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ToddFeathers.