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by Josh Kelley
Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006 at 5:44 AM
Ex-Mesa cop Steve Corich will be training cops in Afghanistan to work for the Amerikan Police State in Afghanistan
Ex-Mesa cop to train Afghan police
When a recruiter asked Steve Corich whether he was interested in training police in Afghanistan for a year, he said his first reaction was "probably not."
But the lure of adventure, a compelling mission and good pay eventually convinced Corich, director of public safety at Mesa Community College, that this was a job for him.
"The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would probably be a pretty unique opportunity," said Corich, who lives in Chandler with his 11-year-old son and wife, Linda.
Three years ago, Corich applied with the U.S. Department of State to work on special teams assigned to rebuild infrastructure and justice systems in tumultuous Third World countries.
"My wife thought I was out of my mind initially, I think," he said. "But she's being very supportive right now."
Before becoming public safety director at the college in 2002, Corich spent time as a teacher and a U.S. marshal and 21 years with the Mesa Police Department. He retired in 1997 as a sergeant.
His police assignments included work with narcotics, motorcycles and patrol. He supervised a team that handled high-profile arrests, worked on a Drug Enforcement Administration task force and spent much of his final decade with the department teaaching at the academy.
Now he will take those skills and use them at one of about eight training academies for national police within Afghanistan. He said he expects to instruct in the classroom through an interpreter and play a mentoring role for trainees, a task that could include field training.
Among his greatest challenges will be to persuade his trainees to overcome a culture of corruption. In Afghanistan the temptation is great for an officer to turn a blind eye to crime in exchange for bribes that could dwarf his salary from the government, Corich said.
Corich, who leaves today for training in Alexandria, Va., said he's approaching his assignment with the recognition he won't be able to change a fundamental philosophy ingrained in the culture.
"But if you can change a few minds at a time, that's probably the way to look at it," he said.
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