Two New York City cops have gone from fighting crime in Brooklyn to training police officers in Afghanistan.
NYPD Emergency Services Unit officers Steve Hayden and William Hart are serving with the New York National Guard in southern Afghanistan. They are both on leave from the department, working as mentors to Afghanistan’s growing police force.
Capt. Hart, 39, of Westchester, said the recruits have a lot to learn in a short amount of time.
“The Afghan National Police have great expectations placed upon them and they only receive eight weeks of formal training,” he said. “Any police officer in American will tell you that it takes years to be proficient as a police officer.”
First. Sgt Hayden, 45, of Long Island, said many of the recruits are illiterate, which hampers their training.
“Their inability to take notes and refer back to written material, notes and outlines hamstrings their efforts to retain information,” Hayden said. “I am impressed with the Afghan officers’ willingness to engage the enemy and their desire to secure their homeland. If Afghanistan is to stand alone as a nation, on it’s own, it is imperative that the U.S. military provide training, support and guidance that will allow them to secure their own country and prosper as a people.”
Hart said bringing his street smarts to the rugged mountains of Afghanistan has given him a new appreciation for his work.
“The police in America do not have to worry about improvised explosive devices in the road or Taliban coming to their homes at night to kill them because they support the government,” he said.
“All the answers come down to security,” Hart said. “Because the people of Afghanistan feel that there is not enough security, the children do not go to school. If there was more security, the local population would feel more comfortable providing information to the police about criminal activity without fear of retribution.
“This fear is not only in Afghanistan but in New York as well. In certain neighborhoods, the people fear the criminals and do not provide police with information because they are afraid of what will happen when the police are not around.”