WRCTC Russian For Law Enforcement
With more than 16,000 Russian-born citizens in the Puget Sound region alone, law enforcement officers in areas with large Russian populations have sought a new course provided by the Washington National Guard’s Counter Drug Program.
The Russian Language Survival Guide for Law Enforcement is available through the Western Regional Counterdrug Training Center on Camp Murray. This scenario-based course provides law enforcement personnel with the skills to interact with the Russian-speaking community to deter, interdict and counteract drug-related activity.
“Students are taught a foundation of the Russian language upon which to build for future use,” said Staff Sgt. Kurt Erickson, course instructor and Russian Linguist with the 341st Military Intelligence Battalion. “They will also leave the course with a greater understanding of Russian-speaking culture and societal norms.”
Kirill Shamin, Assistant Federal Security Director – Law Enforcement and Army Reserve soldier, recently attended a course and took the Defense Language Proficiency Test, for the first time since 1992, after the course. He improved his proficiency score from a 2/2 to a 3/3, which is the difference in being able to use the language in professional environment only, to being able to easily converse with native speakers in most settings.
“The benefits of improving your score can be a significant increase in special language pay, in this case almost doubling,” said Sgt. Sharon Gold, Command Language Program Manager for the Washington National Guard. “It creates an incentive to find continued learning avenues, like this course, if you are a law enforcement officer and reserve component service member.”
Erickson highlighted that the language skills were coupled with practical scenarios involving drug-related traffic stops, smuggling interdictions and organized crime syndicate analysis will provide the student with a Russian language survival guide for law enforcement operations.
Understanding the cultural differences enhance law enforcement’s ability to help the Russian-born communities and their families. A recent measles outbreak was partially a result of such a community in southern Washington, where Russian-born families reside. They are traditionally resistant to government requirements, stemming from their mistrust of government in Russian. Being able to speak to these communities in their own language is necessary for improving community and government relations.