Tanzanian officers get policing tips at TSU

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 2, 2000

Staff Writer

May 1, 2000 10 PM

Seven men and one woman have come a long way to learn about American police procedures.

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A group of eight security officers from the east African nation of Tanzania have been on the Troy State University campus this week learning lessons they plan to take back with them.

"Not only has it been a learning experience for them; it’s been a learning experience for us," said Stark Laney, adjunct faculty member with the Department of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences.

Laney and instructor Don Brown have spent the week teaching and learning.

"Don and I have enjoyed it," Laney said.

He said the visit came about through the TSU’s Distance Learning program. Another connection is the 23 Tanzanian students who were enrolled at TSU for spring semester.

"We’ve been teaching them the fundamentals of being a private security officer," Brown said.

Some of the lessons the officers have learned include: bank security, private security, self defense, investigating bomb threats and suspicious packages, responding to critical incidents and preserving a crime scene, interviewing and investigation techniques, public relations, patrolling and reporting theft, shoplifting prevention and first aid/CPR.

Brown pointed out these officers will work different types of jobs from guarding a bank or business to guarding a school or other public building.

The group as a whole seemed most fascinated with the differences between departments and hierarchy. Tanzania has a national police force and private security companies for more than 31 million people. Looking at Troy, which has a university police department, a city department, a county department and State Troopers covering the area, is a big difference.

As far as learning in the classroom, the group enjoyed learning defensive techniques.

One of the officers said he "certainly" felt more prepared to handle a situation, such as a bomb threat, which was one of the reasons for the visit.

The group’s visit is part of an ongoing effort by Tanzania to upgrade its security capabilities after the August 1998 terrorist bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

During a group discussion, the officers said they have learned things that will help them when they return to their jobs after an 18-hour return flight.

Brown said one of the major differences is community policing is a common thing here, whereas in Tanzania, citizens are afraid of law enforcement officers.

"They fear police," Brown said. "It’s a power struggle there."

He said the Tanzanians expressed amazement that officers can be seen talking and laughing with residents here.

"They’re amazed by individuals’ freedom," Brown said.

But, the differences between Tanzania and the United States go beyond the realms of law enforcement and security.

Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, compared to the United States where almost everyone has a car and designer clothes. About half of Tanzania’s population is below the poverty line.

Personalities are also different.

"The people are so kind," one of the security officers said of Americans.

That same officer said Americans are more emotional and "care more" about each other.

Believe it or not, they think American drivers are nice. Having drivers stop to allow pedestrians ­ of which they pointed out there aren’t many here, while almost everyone in Tanzania walks ­ cross the street is a novelty to them.

Although the group has learned quite a bit about the United States while here, they were not completely clueless when they arrived. On the five televions stations they receive, some of them have watched American televison programs, such as "Emergency" and "ER."