Deputy Chief Sherry Whiteway recently had the rare opportunity to travel to Afghanistan along with other senior Canadian police leaders to learn more about their policing environment. The purpose was to review the progress of our past contributions, understand the transitions planned for 2011 to 2014 and commit to the future of the country.
When the offer was made, Deputy Chief Whiteway did not hesitate to accept. “It was a chance of a lifetime and proved to be much more than I ever expected.”
OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Bob Paulson and SPV Montreal Commander Mario Fournier shared the experience with the Deputy. For the first leg of the trip, they flew to Kabul where they spent two and a half days touring the NATO Training Centre, Major Crime Task Force, Camp Eggers, EUPOL and the Canadian Embassy.
Deputy Whiteway had the opportunity to speak, through an interpreter, to a female recruit class at the Training Centre. She applauded them for their courage and shared her experiences as a police officer for 31 years. Protecting Human Rights and raising awareness on critical women’s issues within the Afghan National Police are core elements relating to the understanding and combating gender-based violence. The reception and thanks she received from the recruits spoke to their hope for the future.
The next leg of her tour was to Kandahar Air Field (KAF), where the already high level of security was heightened. Deputy Whiteway had the privilege of paying her respects to fallen soldier Corporal Yannich Scherrer, as he was repatriated to Canada. “I have stood on the Highway of Heroes and watched as our young men and women return home, on many, many occasions. In this instance, the reality hit even harder, as we stood at attention, amongst our Canadian Military and said good-bye,” said Deputy Whiteway.
Leaving KAF, the police leaders travelled to Kandahar to partake in a Rule of Law Symposium. Representation from Heads of State, Police, Corrections and Justice Departments involved in discussions from both the Canadian and Afghan perspective. The next stop was the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Training Centre to commemorate the ongoing cooperation and celebrate the Transfer of Command. The training centre is now under Afghan leadership with oversight by the US military. Deputy Whiteway had the opportunity to address both a female recruit class and a new leadership program for men.
Travelling by armored vehicle, Deputy Whiteway visited a sub station, PSS10, and spoke to the Chief of Police and several officers. Their attempts at Community Policing are hampered by the ongoing war. The officers live at the police station during their assignment, only returning home on holidays.
A tactical airlift in a Chinook, a large military transport helicopter, flew the group to Panjwa’i District Headquarters for an afternoon of discussions with Canadian officers, Afghan police and Intelligence. As Canadians prepare to move north to Kabul this summer, plans are in place for a sustainable infrastructure.
The remaining time was used to highlight the work achieved in partnership with the Canadian and U.S. military. The Major Crime Task Force, including Forensics, Intelligence and Investigations, has proven essential in the identification and capture of insurgents to help restore a level of security and growth which the region has not known in decades.
Canada is in Afghanistan with over 60 other nations, at the request of the democratically-elected Afghan government and as part of an UN mandated, NATO-led mission.
The Durham Regional Police Service has been deploying officers to international peace-keeping missions for over 14 years. Since 2009, a total of seven uniform officers took their policing expertise to Afghanistan, for periods of nine months to a year. They provided training and mentoring to the Afghan National Police in both Kandahar and Kabul.
The next phase will see Canadian Police Officers (CIVPOL) continuing their involvement in police reform by leading training programs, promoting accountability, governance and police leadership. The police mission will be managed out of the Canadian Embassy in Kabul, with all officers relocated from Kandahar.
Today, Canadian police routinely hold key leadership positions in missions around the world, establishing a reputation for leadership, professionalism and dedication. This was observed by Deputy Whiteway every day of her tour, “I have never been so proud to be Canadian. Our men and women are doing such an incredible job, sacrificing the comforts of home and family and giving of themselves, selflessly.”
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Police cadets in training (JPG file, 331.9K bytes)
Deputy Whiteway in transport (JPG file, 259.3K bytes)
Canadian Senior Police Delegation Visits EUPOL (JPG file, 430.8K bytes)
Deputy Whiteway in Afghanistan (JPG file, 493.1K bytes)
Deputy Chief Whiteway travels by Chinook (JPG file, 186.2K bytes)