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[FYI] FBI Training Eastern European Police
[ from: The Hungary Report #1.28, free weekly, direct from Budapest ]
[ retransmitted to list without permission to increase distribution ]
FBI School Teaches New Tricks to Old Enemies
By Susan Milligan Copyright (c) 1995
In matching navy blue polo shirts, the students sat transfixed as
they watched slides showing the destruction of the Oklahoma City and
World Trade Center bombings.
"God forbid you should ever have anything like this happen over
here," American instructor Ed Burwitz told his Central European
class, outfitted with headphones for simultaneous translation of the
lecture. "It is a tough task for any
freedom-loving country to prevent terrorism," he added.
The class on forensics is typical of what goes on in law enforcement
academies across America. But in this classroom, the instructors are
teaching crime-fighting tactics to students from onetime enemy
"This could not have happened five years ago," said Laszlo Simon, the
Hungarian director of the International Law Enforcement Academy here.
"We don't preach or teach," said Leslie Kaciban, the American
director of the newly-opened facility. Instead, the American
instructors - culled from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies
- share information and experiences with the students for them to
adapt to their systems.
Students from Hungary, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic and other
Central and Eastern European nations attend ILEA's 8-week sessions,
the first of which began in April.
The United States fronted $2.5 million to renovate the campus, which
includes a brand-new gym, classrooms, dormitories and one of
Hungary's few indoor tennis courts. The Hungarian government
contributed $500,000 to renovate the facility,
but the U.S. will pay the $3.5 million yearly cost to operate the
center, which is modeled after the law enforcement training center in
The facility looks like any other college campus - students go on
field trips together, take "wellness" physical fitness class
together, and will have a yearbook and alumni newsletter.
The idea is to help the Eastern Europeans with their burgeoning
crimes problems, as well as to foster cooperation on international
"I'm amazed at the freedom of travel that is possible" after the
opening up of the Eastern nations, Burwitz said. But "that means
criminals can travel as well," he said, allowing them to traffic
drugs and contraband. "The more interaction we have with these
countries in law enforcement, the better it will be for emerging
democracies," Kaciban said.
Class topics range from "human dignity" - how to treat a crime
suspect - to undercover operations and fraud. April's bombing of the
federal building in Oklahoma City is being used as an example in
In "crisis management," students will learn "how to contain it (a
crisis) and keep it from erupting," said instructor Stephen Brooks,
who helped handle the Oklahoma City bombing. Big-scale bombings are
not common to this part of the world, students said. But they said
they learned a lot about how to fight organized crime, which is
mushrooming in the aftermath of the fall of communism. "They told
they have a lot of problems (with organized crime), and that it's
better if we learn from their mistakes," said Hungarian student
Organized crime is doubly damaging to the emerging nations, because
it undermines their economies, Kaciban said. Investors are naturally
reluctant to dump money into a nation if they believe there is
rampant corruption. Some teachings do not translate for the European
students. For example, there is no Russian RICO - the Racketeer
Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act that is one of the strongest
American legal tools against organized crime.
Eastern European crime syndicates tend not to be based in crime
families, instructors said. And organized crime in Russia and Ukraine
is so much a part of the society, that it's hard to stop it, said Amy
O'Neil, a State Department official not involved in the ILEA. "Under
the communist system, you basically did what you could get away with.
Everyone broke laws," O'Neil said. "That's how you survived."
Both students and teachers said there was a remarkable similarity,
however, in the use of evidence and investigatory tools among the
countries. Eastern Europeans are very familiar with the use of DNA
testing, for example, to identify suspects, although they don't
always have the money to do it, Burwitzsaid."There are different
orders of laws between the U.S. and here," said a Czech student who
would identify himself only as Milan. "But essentially, we have the
same methods of investigation."
* * *
Susan Milligan <[email protected]> is a free-lance writer and
stringer for the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Examiner, Business
Central Europe and Hollywood Reporter.