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Law Enforcement Exchanges

The American Home has played a substantial role in a series of exchanges beginning in 1994. These have included the provision of training to eight law enforcement personnel from Vladimir at the University of Illinois Police Training Institute, Illinois State University Criminal Justice student study tours, major assistance to Maria (Masha) Yumatova who enrolled in the two-year Masters Program in Criminal Justice at Illinois State University in fall 2004, and a Criminal Justice Study Tour group at Militia Training School outside Vladimir.

A short history of our Law Enforcement Exchange Program

In 1990, Ron Pope initiated the first contacts between the ISU Criminal Justice Department and the ISU Police Department and law enforcement professionals in Vladimir, Russia. (Vladimir is Bloomington-Normal's Russian Sister City.) This developed into a number of visits and exchanges, including the team teaching of a course at ISU on Russian law enforcement by Dr. Frank Morn (Professor of Criminal Justice at Illinois State University) and Major (now Colonel) Vladimir Sergevnin, at that time head of the social sciences division at the V1adimir Juridical Institute ( formerly the Vladimir Special Militia School) in spring 1993. In turn, Serendipity has organized regular "criminal justice" study trips to Russia through ISU. DR. Morn led the first four trips. ISU CJ professor Dr. Donna Vandiver led the 2003, with Dr. Morn returning to lead the 2005 trip. (A video was made of the May 1996 trip by two ISU television production students who were participating in an internship through Serendipity.)

In the spring of 1994 the first two Russian officers attended the University of Illinois Police Training Institute (PTI) under the sponsorship of Stanard and Associates (a Chicago-based consulting firm), PTI, and Serendipity. These were Senior Lt. (now Lt. Colonel) Anna Korovina and Major (now Colonel) Alexei Grigoriev. They returned to the militia training school in Vladimir (now the Vladimir Juridical Institute) that June where, working with Major Sergevnin, they helped implement a number of changes in the academic program based on what they had learned in Illinois. These included adding a course to the school's curriculum on American law enforcement training (they spent time with four different Illinois police departments after their training at PTI), physical testing, and improved psychological screening of applicants for their program. Most significant, they began implementing a change in instructional emphasis from all theory to the relationship between theory and practice. This change has been adopted by other militia training programs. (In January 1997, with assistance from Dr. Pope, Capt. Korovina returned to Illinois to team teach the previously offered course on Russian law enforcement, again with Prof Morn, and to help work on a textbook begun by Dr. Morn and Col. Sergevnin on the changes in Russia's criminal justice system. (Unfortunately, this book has not yet been published) The semester was very productive. Capt. Korovina also was invited to visit the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia and law enforcement facilities in Chicago. In the spring of 1999 she spent several months working on a variety of projects at PTI.)

In summer 1996 Sr. Lt. Boris Agapitov and Capt. Alexandr (Sasha) Simkin attended the U of I police training program, this time under the sponsorship of PTI, the Vladimir-Canterbury Sister City Association of Bloomington/Normal (Illinois), and Serendipity. (After their 12-week PTI program, they spent five weeks with several different Illinois law enforcement agencies.) In spring 1998 two more officers, Sr. Lt. Andrei Klementiev and Capt. Yuri Nikonorov took part in the program with assistance from a U.S. State Department grant. Capt. Klementiev is on the staff of the Juridical Institute and Lt. Nikonorov was filling the new position of public relations officer for the Vladimir City and Oblast (regional} militia offices. Maj. Sergei Kachaturian from the Vladimir Juridical Institute and Lt. Anna Gavrilova from the Vladimir militia, arrived in Illinois the end of March 1999 and completed the PTI-based program in early July 1999, again with assistance from Serendipity. Capt. Gavrilova is currently completing the equivalent of her PhD at the Juridical University of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Moscow where she is also teaching a class in the Criminalistics Department. Under her influence, some of the teaching staff at this institute has also switched their emphasis from theory to what is relevant "on the street."

After funding was ended for the Police Training Institute program, we began a search for alternative ways to bring militia officers to the States for training. In October 2000 Capt. Alexei Ignatiev, a senior inspector in the Vladimir Ministry of Internal Affairs, began a six month visit hosted--and funded--by the Bloomington and Normal Police Departments and the McLean County Sheriffs Department.

In June 2002, Vladimir attorney Valentina Spiridonova visited with Judge James Souk (Bloomington) and Judge Michael Mihm (Peoria) and observed court proceedings. She also toured the McLean County Jail.

In fall 2004 Juridical Institute honors graduate, Maria (Masha) Yumatova enrolled in the ISU Masters program in Criminal Justice. Ms Yumatova received the equivalent of straight A's throughout her training. In addition to receiving a gold medal at graduation in 2003, she was awarded one of the first Presidential Scholarships for her senior year. She will return to Vladimir after completing her American degree, where she hopes to do research and possibly teach. [Click here to read her story.]

In general, besides initiating exchanges, Serendipity's role in this law enforcement program has been to help screen Russian participants, provide them with instruction through its English Program, and to assist with initial communications and other details prior to the participants' U.S. arrival. Other individuals, particularly the staff at PTI, at Illinois State University, and in the various host police departments, have made all the local arrangements and have provided the professional training.

This exchange program, which was the first of its kind in the U.S., has been identified as a prototype for local initiatives in providing concrete assistance to Russian public safety organizations. Serendipity is proud to have played a role in initiating and sustaining this effort.

(The U of I Police Training Institute staff and Chief Ronald Swan of the ISU Police Department played major roles in in the initial states of this program. Dr. Thomas Ellsworth, Chair of the ISU Criminal Justice Sciences Department, and, of course, Dr. Frank Mom played key roles in Capt. Korovina's 1997 visit. Capt. Gary Speers of the Normal Police Department organized Capt. Ignatiev's six month visit and made arrangements for Ms. Spiridonova's visits in Bloomington. The ISU Criminal Justice Department made Ms. Yumatova's Masters program possible through a graduate assistantship.)

For more information, please read Russian-American Law Enforcement Exchanges: What One Program Has Accomplished, and Criminal Justice Students Travel to Russia: A Graduate Student's Perspective.

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