ALTOONA, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Star International Police Exchange Organization opened a door in the 1980s where police departments in the United States host officers from around the world. One specific program of Star is based in Altoona where officers in different countries will train and live life as an Altoona officer.
Edward Bell, with the Altoona Police Department, says this program has proved to be successful in the past and they are determined to keep it that way. “I knew how the U.S. law enforcement system works and I know how the German system works. And I found this to be a great opportunity for both sides to learn from each other. To come closer and to sit at a table together. And so, in 2017, I reached out to Star after I learned about that organization, and they assisted me in founding the Wisconsin chapter.”
This program also applies to American officers who want to experience life as an officer in other countries. However, Bell says that all officers must be approved before joining the program, “They go through a process where I contact supervisors, I contact their departments to make sure that they are not just in good standing, that they represent us as professionals as we would expect people to come here.”
German Officer Claus Andresen has participated in this program multiple times and says he loves it. He explained, “My first program was 2001. Happened just, 911 at that week. And this is my ninth program now. So, I’m one of the seniors doing stuff like that.”
Andreson says the most interesting part about the program is experiencing the American ways, “The most is living with the people over here, with the Americans, the food and the society. Because the system you have, the volunteers. The volunteers do a lot of work for the society. And this is not that way in Germany.”
Bell says, “We are committed to trying to extend the programs we have in place and to extend our outreach to other states that aren’t yet part of our association.”
Bell also says the international program language is English because it is the most widely spoken language in the program.
The officers will be in the United States for two weeks and have plans to visit the Minnesota State Fair, and even the Mall of America, while they are here.