Walking the beat, 10,000 km from home

  • Published
  • By Maj. Robert Couse-Baker
  • 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Ask most cops why they went into law enforcement, and they will say it is about people -- helping people, meeting people, even just talking with people.

For a people-focused cop, Staff Sgt. Travis Hartzell has a dream job. As patrolmaster for the 376th Air Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, he has spent the last 90 days walking the dusty streets and lanes of villages near this forward-deployed location.

"I love this," said Hartzell, a native of Seattle. "It's incomparable to what I do at home station. Walking through these towns lets you be in touch with the people. We're out here trying to build rapport."

And rapport is developing. With the help of an interpreter, Hartzell and other cops are now familiar faces in the local villages.

Reception varies; the local communities are very diverse, with a wide range of ethnicities and mind-sets. Most local citizens are happy the anti-terrorism coalition is here, but no one is reluctant to voice concerns or offer advice.

"The people appreciate your help, and they will tell other people you are very friendly and helpful," he said.

On this particular walking patrol, Aug. 28, Hartzell is joined by Capt. Nicolaj Marker, a military police officer with the Royal Danish Air Force, and Airman 1st Class Christopher Frey, a fire-team member from Palmyra, Pa.

Marker also appreciates the interpersonal contact. "It's very exciting to talk to the locals, to hear their point of view," he said.

And listening has led to action. After his first few patrols, Frey learned of some of the needs of the local community. He sent an e-mail home to his church in Pennsylvania, asking for donations of clothes and books. One e-mail multiplied into many, and soon boxes of donations were arriving.

On this patrol, Frey was able to deliver six boxes of books and winter clothes to the administrator of the local school district.

"I'm glad we had the chance to be able to make a difference in the lives of the people here," Frey said.