Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Local officer tackles UN mission

Orilla Packet & Times (Canada)

Starting from scratch

POLICING: Local officer tackles UN mission


As a former member of the military, Randy Gosse is well aware of the opportunity to make a difference on and off home soil.

The OPP constable spent a dozen years with the military before joining the Timmins police force, which he left after six years to join the Orillia OPP detachment.

While with the military, Gosse joined United Nations missions in Yugoslavia and Bosnia.

His first mission was to Yugoslavia in 1992, when violent conflicts in that country that lasted a decade were still in their infancy.

In 2005, his second mission took him to the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia.

But when Gosse left the military nearly a decade ago, his desire to help those overseas remained intact.

He returned to Orillia more than a month ago after spending nearly half a year in East Timor, a Southeast Asian country that became the first new sovereign nation of the 21st century in 2002 after securing its independence from Indonesia.

But much of the infrastructure in the area had been damaged, leaving a new people to, in many ways, start anew.

One important step: Form a competent police force.

Enter Gosse.

"Starting off as a brand-new country, they want everything perfect," he said. "To try to develop a country to become independent, and starting off with so little, was really difficult for them."

Gosse was one of six Canadians, and the only OPP officer, on the United Nations mission in East Timor. He provided "in-service training" -- that is training to those who are already qualified for the job.

Handcuffing and searching techniques and crime-scene procedure are areas in which he helped train. Much of it was, essentially, a refresher for the East Timor cops, who can go a long time without having to handcuff someone.

"We look at Canada as being a safe country," Gosse said.

But it's interesting to compare East Timor to Orillia when it comes to policing.

In Orillia, police might receive a couple of hundred calls for service on a weekend. In East Timor, that number could be just 25.

"You try to make (the training) as relevant as possible," Gosse said.

Gosse did more than just train local officers; he became a local officer.

The UN mandate gave him and other officers on the mission executive authority, meaning he also responded to calls.

"It was the best opportunity for me to interact directly with the police officers," he said of his role as a trainer. "I wanted to train and work with the locals as much as I could. I get the experience of working with other nationalities to learn how they work."

Compared to his previous missions, East Timor was "a really safe, relatively uneventful mission, which is good," he said.

This is the 20th year Canada has been sending its police on international missions, and it's also the 100th anniversary of the OPP.

"(The missions) are a good thing for the OPP," Gosse said.

Travelling "is a big thing for me," he said, adding it makes it easier since he and his wife, also ex-military and now a police officer, have no children.

Next, he'd like to join a mission to Afghanistan to help train police there, where, "if a guy can make $100,000 selling dope, but he becomes a police officer instead, that's noble because he's doing it to make a difference for himself and his family in a positive way."

His lengthy absence from the local detachment, from early May to mid- November, meant more work for some of his colleagues, who stepped up to the plate.

"Without the support of my co-workers, I wouldn't have been able to do that," he said.


Article ID# 2217180


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John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
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