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Glenn off to China to visit Olympic security forces trained in Hagerstown

August 12, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- As thousands of Chinese security forces undertake the enormous task of keeping order at the 2008 Summer Olympics, many could be using tactics their trainers studied in Hagerstown.

Over a three-year period from 2005 to 2007, more than 40 officers from the Beijing and Qingdao police departments visited the United States to study antiterrorism strategies and large crowd-control tactics in an international exchange coordinated by Kaplan College Hagerstown - then known as Hagerstown Business College - according to Larry Glenn, the campus's international programs director.

Glenn left Monday for a 10-day trip to China, during which he plans to check in with some of those officers to find out how the strategies they studied are working out.

The Chinese chose HBC because, at the time they were researching programs, it was one of the few schools offering a criminal justice and computer forensics program, Glenn said.

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"They were skeptical at first because it was a very small school," he said.

HBC officials consulted the International Olympic Committee, security coordinators from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and federal, state and local security forces to design a customized training program for the visiting officers, Glenn said.

The program included training from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI Academy, New York emergency coordinators, Maryland State Police and the Washington County Sheriff's Department, Glenn said. The training was conducted in Chinese with the help of translators, he said.

The officers went on field trips, but the program was based in Hagerstown, and the officers practiced hand-to-hand combat in the city's former armory on Potomac Street, Glenn said.

Some of the strategies included in the training were the use of video surveillance, the use of perimeter lighting around important areas like stadium gates, and the use of ditches hidden in shrubbery to make it harder to drive a truck bomb into the stadium, he said. The officers also were taught methods for controlling Olympics-sized crowds.

"Police officers are trained in large crowd control, but not like that," Glenn said. "It's kind of the creme de la creme of crowd control."

Glenn's trip to China this week is partially to negotiate with Chinese schools for future collaboration and to recruit students to come to Kaplan College Hagerstown on student visas, but toward the end of the week, he has arranged to meet with some of the Qingdao officers who trained in Hagerstown.

Those 15 officers helped train more than 17,000 Qingdao Police officers who are responsible for security in the city, which is the sailing venue for the 2008 games, Glenn said.

"It will be kind of nice to get their thoughts on how effective and how valuable their training was," he said.

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