Exchange Matters / April 13, 2017

Police Professionalization Exchange Program Launched in Texas

By Kate Wheeler, Professional Exchanges Fellow, Global Ties U.S.

PPEP group outside

PPEP participants and hosts in Texas.

In support of the Mérida Initiative, Global Ties U.S. and community-based members GlobalAustin and the San Antonio Council for International Visitors (SACIV) welcomed 19 high-level Mexican police academy leaders for the first project in our new Police Professionalization Exchange Program (PPEP), funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

The Mérida Initiative is an unprecedented partnership between the United States and Mexico to fight organized crime and associated violence while furthering respect for human rights and the rule of law. Under the nearly ten-year old agreement, bilateral efforts expand assistance to state level law enforcement and justice sector personnel; support democratic institutions, especially police, justice systems, and civil society organizations; expand our border focus beyond interdiction of contraband to include facilitating legitimate trade and travel; and build stable communities able to withstand the pressures of crime and violence. Between Fiscal Years 2008 and 2016, Congress appropriated more than $2.6 billion under the Mérida Initiative, and police capacity building courses for Mexican law enforcement including crime investigation, criminal intelligence, professionalization, tactics and firearms, forensics, strategic analysis, and specialized training for anti-corruption, anti-gang, anti-trafficking in persons, anti-money laundering, and anti-kidnapping units. PPEP participants took part in an intensive weeklong in-person training academy to boost their understanding of how newly-recruited police officers are prepared for duty.

Participants met with local police officers, police academy trainers, and senior police leaders in both cities, engaging in both classroom and experiential learning. Annually over the next three years, the Network will welcome up to 200 in-person PPEP participants, as well as train another 500 online with U.S. experts. PPEP includes opportunities for Mexican law enforcement professionals to receive training and professional development opportunities via online components, professional study tours in the U.S. and participation in a Mexican-based training institute facilitated by U.S. law enforcement experts.

PPEP vest

PPEP participants in a seminar session.

SACIV Executive Director Cecilia Cross said, “SACIV is thrilled to be working with Global Ties U.S. on this new and innovative program, which has allowed us to expand our portfolio and develop new partnerships with local law enforcement agencies. In a city with deep cultural and historic roots to Mexico, it was particularly meaningful to host our neighbors from across the border, especially as they examine topics of such importance to the security of the region.”

The international professional exchange provided an important opportunity for capacity building and hands-on training. Personal and professional bonds were established which will lead to longer-term collaborations and partnerships on individual and institutional levels. “Collaboration through international professional exchange is crucial for continued training and development,” explained Jason Terry, Associate Director of Exchanges and Professional Development at Global Ties U.S. “We are thrilled that the program is off to such an outstanding start, and look forward to welcoming and engaging with police officials over the next three years.”

PPEP weapons demo

PPEP participants and trainers review weapons.