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In the Police Training Centre in Gotenica, simulations of incidents that could be encountered by police officers participating in international peacekeeping missions in the course of theirs work started on 25 October 2010. In the first training exercise, kidnapping of police peacekeepers was simulated.

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In late afternoon, a group of police peacekeepers were "kidnapped" by terrorists demanding a ransom of 10 million euros in cash. After several hours of negotiation, nine hostages, including three injured persons, were released. As the kidnappers were not prepared to surrender, the members of the Special Unit broke into the building in early morning hours and saved the remaining hostages, apprehending the kidnappers. Nobody was injured during the rescue operation.

"The last pre-deployment training for police candidates for international peacekeeping missions took place in 2007. The programme, which is normally organised once a year, was carried out a little differently this year. Seeking to receive UN training recognition, UN modules have been used exclusively. This means that only UN materials and presentations have been used, English has been the working language, and foreign participants and instructors have been invited. Given the extensive programme, we have not been able to include any national items. We are currently in out third and last week of training, which includes various simulations of events that are physically and psychologically demanding. We do not however expect any dropout among participants, given that they are all well prepared," said training leader Aleš Grudnik.


Aleš Grudnik

"A UN representative was with us for a few days now as an evaluator. According to her, the work was performed according to expectations. We are now waiting for her final report and, in the beginning of the year, for the decision as to whether we have fulfilled the requirements for UN training recognition. It is our strong desire to receive this recognition, which would strengthen the reputation of the Slovenian Police both at home and abroad, while at the same time being their first internationally certified training programme," added Grudnik.

The simulated situation was the first one to be carried out in the last four days of the three-week pre-deployment training of police officers candidates for international peacekeeping missions, which had started on 11 October 2010.


Karla Witte, UN representative and programme evaluator

Karla Witte told us that she had responded to the invitation after previously examining the documents on pre-deployment training in international peacekeeping missions conducted in the Slovenian Police and after finding out that we already fully comply with the provisions of the standardised basic training for police officers that has been developed by the UN. She had been tasked with verifying whether the training is consistent with the rules and regulations, although was unfortunately unable to monitor the entire training due to other obligations.

"What I liked a lot about your training course was that colleagues from the region, i.e. Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, had been invited to participate in the training, both as participants and as trainers. Another thing that was also nice about the Slovenian training was the fact that you added another week to the prescribed at least two-week programme, which provided opportunity for more interactive activity outside the classroom as well.

So far I have observed several training courses like that, but they were all two-week training courses, which is why I do not want to make comparisons between courses in various police forces. Although two trainers may conduct the same module, they adjust their training to their own personality, history and culture of an individual country. It is therefore quite difficult to make comparisons as countries have different approaches to training. The only thing that I can evaluate is whether the standards are used properly. I will write my final report as soon as I am back and refer it upwards through the chain of command. We can expect for the final decision to be taken by the beginning of the next year," added Karla Witte.

The purpose of the exercise, which was conducted with the participation of candidates for deployment, representative of the International Police Operations Division, representatives of the Criminal Police Directorate, representatives of the Special Unit, the rescue team of the Ljubljana Ambulance Service and others, was to simulate one of possible scenarios in the performance of tasks in international peacekeeping missions and indicate the right course of action.


Miran Ozebek

Among the participants of the training were also police negotiators. "With terrorists we negotiated on the demands, on the release of hostages, on a positive outcome with no casualties. At the beginning we were not aware of the number of the kidnappers or whether there were any injuries or fatalities. We were only aware of the kidnappers' demand, which was a large sum of money," said Miran Ozebek, head of negotiating teams. He emphasised that in negotiations time is not relevant and that the discussions can last for a long time. He added: "The important thing is to make every effort to successfully solve the crisis situation."


Tomaž Dietner

According to the head of shift at the Ljubljana Ambulance Service Tomaž Dietner, the kidnapping exercise was interesting for them as well. "The rescue team had been invited to the training course, i.e. to participate in this exercise, in order to provide medical care. Upon the arrival we only knew that hostages had been captured and that possible injuries could include gunshot wounds, wounds from explosive devices and various states of shock. In a way, this exercise was a training course for us as well. According to the scenario there was no signal whatsoever, which meant that we were unable to reach our basic unit or enter into contact with the neighbouring ambulance services. The three of us had to rely on our own knowledge and equipment that we had. In the best case scenario, there would of course be no injured persons, but they brought nine of them, luckily without any serious injuries."

The Slovenian Police has been taking part in international peacekeeping missions since 1997, when the first officer was deployed in the MAPE mission in Albania. The tasks, powers and work of "civilian" police officers in peacekeeping and other international missions differ greatly from those of military persons and units and other personnel in civilian missions. Police officers live in the environment where they work and as a rule perform their tasks individually. While they are not provided with any additional security in their living and working environment, they are most often also left to their own resources in logistical terms.


Lazar Bačić

"The atmosphere here is fantastic. The team has been excellent and we understand each other fine. All the lectures, mutual communication and examinations take place in English. I must admit that the training was different from what we had expected; it is a great deal more demanding and complex than we thought it would be. Anyway, we prefer such training, i.e. exercises in all weather conditions including at low temperatures and snow, to long hours of sitting in the classroom," said a Serbian police officer Lazar Bačić.


Barbara Dragar

"I decided to take this course in order to add a new experience to my professional career. In spite of the fact that at the moment I am very tired after a nearly 30 km walk on a rugged terrain with a heavy backpack on my back, I wish to have more days like this in the training programme, rather than sitting in the classroom," stressed a Slovenian police officer Barbara Dragar.

Civilian police officers in missions are expected to have good command of the English language, while it is also desirable that they master the language of the country they are leaving for. It their work, they also use local interpreters and must be skilled in negotiation techniques.

IMG 6280Negotiators use a number of ways to establish communication with the kidnappers, including the so called field telephone

The number of Slovenian police officers deployed in international missions is not negligible as compared with other countries; in numerous missions it is completely comparable to the number of officers deployed by European countries that are similar to Slovenia in size and development. Slovenian police officers are very much noticed and appreciated abroad due to their professionalism, active approach and taking on responsible tasks in the missions.