SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras –
Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element partnered with Honduran officials to provide medical care near Honduras’s second-largest city, San Pedro Sula, during a medical civic action program mission, Feb. 18.
Approximately 1,175 patients were seen in this one-day collaboration effort between local police, JTF-Bravo, local providers and private organizations.
“The local police were planning this event long before any other supporting units were involved,” said Erin Lane, Program Coordinator INL of the U.S. Embassy, “They wanted to do this event to bridge the gap between the police and local community, build relationships, and gain back the public trust in the area.”
San Pedro Sula, Honduras's second-largest city, is also the world's most dangerous. Honduras and San Pedro Sula have in recent years suffered the highest homicide rates of any country or city in the world.
JTF-Bravo, MEDEL, and the Civil Affairs team worked with the Honduran police near San Pedro Sula to build their capacity for civil engagement and to increase the presence and legitimacy of the government of Honduras in high risk, under-governed areas.
MEDEL provided medical, dental, and pharmacological support in partnership with the San Pedro Sula Metropolitan Police Units (UMEP) and Los Tigres, an elite force within the Honduran National Police.
According to Inspector Jose Mendez Medina, deputy of UMEP 6, it was identified there was limited access to medical care in the area and they wanted to provide this service to show the local population that the police are committed to the community and willing to help.
“The local police force has a medical brigade,” said Lane, “They want to build relationships with the community to bridge the gap and gain back the trust within the community. The police department wanted to show the community they care.”
The police interacted with the event attendees by distributing school kits to young children and t-shirts promoting the New Generation of the police force.
Working with Honduran police forces on joint exercises solidifies JTF-Bravo as a Partner-of-Choice for collaborative actions.
“This event showcased the interoperability of all of partner agencies working together towards a common goal,” said CPT Lauren Popp, Military Information Support Operations, Team Leader, “The unified efforts of the Honduran National Police, Interagency Partners, and various Department of Defense elements allowed for each to achieve common objectives and further cooperative relationships.”
This particular engagement was part of a three-piece mission in the Cortes area, with a MEDRETE in Corinto, a Mobile Surgical Team performing gallbladder and hernia surgeries in the Area Hospital in Puerto Cortes and the Police Partnership Engagement taking place in San Pedro Sula.