By Capt. Katherine Troxell, 551st MP Co.
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Something as small as a cup of coffee can have a lasting expression that can last a lifetime.
Soldiers assigned to 716th Military Police Battalion, 551st Military Police Company, ‘Hooligans’, enjoyed a cup of coffee at the Tower Barracks local coffee shop in Grafenwoehr, Germany, with the members of the Bavaria community on January 4, 2019.
This opportunity provided the soldiers the opportunity to meet and interact with the Bavaria Community by answering questions and holding civil conversations.
The 551st MP Co. is currently on a deployment rotation providing law enforcement support to installations throughout the country under the United States European Command.
“One of our main objectives coming here was to build a positive relationship in the communities” says 2nd Lt. Ronnieka Fleming, a platoon leader with 551st MP Co. “As a rotational unit, we know our biggest challenge is gaining the trust of the members within the community. We want the service members and their families to know that we are here to protect and serve them regardless if we’re stationed here or not.”
Spc. Robert Frenes, a military police and the lead planner for the event, stressed that he wanted the public to know that they’re not just there for when they get in trouble.
Frenes said, “It’s great to get out and be seen in a positive light, it lets the community know we are here to keep them safe and we are approachable if they need help.
The 551st MP have been deployed to Germany since June 2018. While deployed, the Hooligans are providing law enforcement at five different bases. In the short time the unit has been on ground the, unit leaders have taken the initiative to building rapport and trust within the communities they serve.
Establishing trust and having a visible presence in the community is critical to preventing and detecting crimes. Coffee with an MP is but one of many ways the unit is making strides to interact with the public on a daily basis.
Stacy Johnson, a civilian member of the community attending the event stated, “I see the MPs driving around all the time, I’m happy I got to meet some of them this morning, they are so polite and respectful. I hope they continue to do events like this in the future.”
The company’s focus while deployed for nine months has been building community relationships, providing law enforcement on and off post, and working closely with the German Police Department.
According to Sgt. Alfred Parker, a patrolman in the 551st Military Police Co., the unit are not only responding to cases on base, but also to cases involving Americans off-post.
Parker goes on to say, “It was definitely a culture shock when we first got here and I wasn’t expecting to be working so closely with the German Police, but it’s been a fun experience. We have to understand the German laws as well as the American laws.”
The community policing initiative has allowed 551st MP Co. to better understand their operating environment, discovering what law enforcement issues need to be addressed from fresh local perspectives.
Julie Smith, a resident of the Grafenwoehr says, “The MPs from Fort Campbell have done an outstanding job getting out into the communities. We’ve gotten to know them so well, sometimes I forget they aren’t stationed here.”