SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
The Joint Security Forces unit here hosted 70 local police officers and police academy students Oct. 24 and 26 for a course on crime scene processing.
The course is one in a series of classes taught this year, with other lessons involving handcuff procedures, high-risk traffic stops and riot control. Students consisted of police officers and detectives from nearby Comayagua and La Paz police divisions, and the La Paz Police Academy.
"We started this in March of this year," said Air Force Master Sgt. Ronald Depetro, Joint Task Force-Bravo anti-terrorism and force protection noncommissioned officer. "It's been an ongoing thing, and the Hondurans are really receptive to it - they request (training) all the time."
The training, held over two days this week, consisted of both classroom instruction and a hands-on field exercise. As a native Spanish speaker of Mexican descent, Air Force Staff Sgt. Edgar Castro, a military police investigator with JSF, taught much of the class. Topics covered crime scene processing, processing warrants, evidence collection and preservation.
"Things like what to do when you first arrive at a crime scene, and how to cordon off (the area)," Sergeant Castro said. "They'll be investigating everything from petty theft to murder - the same rules apply to everything."
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Boyd Nutt, the JSF training NCO, said he feels this training is very beneficial to the students and that he also enjoys learning about the training and experience of the local police departments.
"We're reaching out with a helping hand and giving them the training they need to effectively do their job," he said. "Hopefully we're helping them in the prevention of losing a cop's life in a risky situation, and helping them save the lives of civilians."
For two of the students, the American military class serves as a building block on their Honduran Police Academy training. Police Cadets Orlien Sierra and Merli Treminio are currently in their fourth month of training and are scheduled to graduate at the end of the year.
"We have learned new things and details we didn't know before," said Cadet Treminio, who plans to pursue a career as a police detective once she graduates. "We never practiced this before in our academy. We have the theory, but we didn't have the hands on (until now)."
To see and practice the techniques at the class was a good experience overall that will help the students in the future, according to Cadet Sierra.
"By watching this training, we will know how to react in the future," he said. "We'll be able to work it from the beginning to the end."
Sergeant Castro said the next lesson he will cover with the Honduran police officers will be interview and interrogation techniques.