PANAMA CITY, Panama – The Missouri National Guard recently traveled to Panama to participate in a State Partnership Program subject matter expert exchange with law enforcement and protection agencies.
MONG’s 35th Military Police Brigade sent a subject matter expert team led by 1st Sgt. Jason Copley of the 3175th Military Police Company. The group included Sgt. 1st Class Joel Combs (also 3175th), Staff Sgt. Jaymes Dooley (1139th Military Police Company), and Staff Sgt. William Rudd (1175th Military Police Company).
Their mission was to lead discussions on securing a crime scene, collecting evidence and residential search warrant procedures. The exchange included practical exercises in describing and logging evidence, macro photography and DNA collection.
Panama’s 12 participants represented National Aeronaval Service, Institutional Protection Service, National Border Service and the Panamanian National Police. The Panamanian partners presented several case studies and best practices and compared evidence-gathering techniques with MONG’s Military Police.
The Missouri National Guard has enjoyed a formal partnership with Panama since 1996. The partnership strengthens relationships by sharing best practices across many topics.
Innovation helped keep the partnership active during the COVID-19 pandemic. Missouri participated in eight virtual SMEEs, enabling collaboration to continue until travel was possible.
Cpt. Anna Gutierrez, director of the Missouri National Guard’s State Partnership Program, was excited to be back to normal operations.
“We have missed these opportunities to meet face-to-face,” she said. “Something is lost when we are not together. We develop stronger relationships and better collaboration within these exchanges when we can physically be together. And this partnership is very important to Missouri, so we are glad to be back at it.”
Missouri Guard 1st Sgt. Jason Copley, a military policeman and a civilian police officer with the Springfield Police Department, agreed.
“These partnerships are beneficial to everybody involved. … It helps us address the trends that each country is seeing and how we combat that trend,” Copley said. “This program encourages that exchange of information to allow us to change our TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures), or simply adjust our TTPs … to change our training and be better prepared.”
Diego Chiru, a 2nd lieutenant working in search and rescue for the Servicio Nacional Aeronaval, was glad to be a part of the exchange.
“The communication that we had … the exchanges, and also our participation helps us to make it (the SMEE) complete,” Chiru said. “It has been very relevant for me and my colleagues because there were many things that we didn’t know. Especially when we were sharing about collecting evidence.”
Missouri will participate in two more exchanges in the next couple of months. The next event will focus on civil disturbances. Later in the year, there will be an exchange focused on cybersecurity.