Czech police and customs officers do border-security training in USA

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A number of Czech customs officers, policemen and employees of the Ministry of Trade and Industry are currently attending a special course in the United States. With security now a huge international concern, the Czech officials are being taught how to combat the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction. Kevin Cummings from the US Customs Administration explained to RP just what the special training would involve:

"They are going to learn how to identify and detect both weapons of mass destruction and component parts that could be used to build weapons of mass destruction. And weapons of mass destruction include both nuclear, chemical and biological sources. The training course is two weeks long, and it involves both classroom and hands-on training at border facilities. It includes the use of the most sophisticated detection equipment, fibroscopes and neutron and gamma-detection equipment as well as some analytical training with computer analysis to target exports. The training is the most sophisticated training that we have in the United States - even for US agencies."

So, the training is the best money can buy. And the United States government is picking up the tab, even though it is a long distance from its borders to those of the Czech Republic. As Mr Cummings explains, it is his country's policy to co-ordinate its security with the European Union, an organisation the Czechs are hoping to join in two years time.

"We work also with the EU very closely, my office, to ensure that what we deliver to different governments, different ministries, complements with what the EU is doing in each country. We understand that the EU is giving much Phare money for construction of facilities and projects. One of the issues is that the very high-tech equipment may not be available in Europe. And so we are able to complement their programme, by us providing high-tech equipment and the training."

Around two dozen Czech officials are now doing the course in the United States. It may be the first time they have undergone this kind of border-security training, but it is not their first contact with the US Customs Administration.

"I know many of the people who are coming because I visit the Czech Republic on a regular basis. In fact some already at a conference we had on Monday and Tuesday, tomorrow I'm going to the Ministry of Industry and Trade and I will meet the two people who are coming, and I know all the police who are coming and most of the customs people. I would tell you that historically when we sent a country to this course it was all customs, this is the first time we are mixing customs, police and the ministry of trade."