BEAVER (KDKA) — Sixteen Iraqi National police officers were in Pittsburgh and Beaver County this week as part of a three-year long training mission they hope will bring them up to speed on more modern law enforcement techniques.

This is the first of many small delegations. The weather alone is making them feel at home. It was 113 degrees on the streets of Baghdad today.

This visit is courtesy of a $5 million grant from the U.S. State Department to the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

“It’s a good way to plant a seed of democracy in policing the country of Iraq,” Tony Hovanec, of the IACP, said.

From forensics to the county’s 911 center, the visitors were impressed.

“They were in amazement as to the technology we have at hand which gave them a lot of ideas to help try to rebuild the country with some of the technology,” Beaver Police Chief Dan Madgar said.

For these men, maintaining law and order in Iraq is a staggering job, though many things are improving. But bombings remain a constant concern and police have often been the targets of violence themselves.

“These officers are being assassinated each and every day as they go to or from work or on the job,” Tony Hovanec said. He was Beaver’s police chief for 25 years and spent 32 months training the police force in Iraq.

He knows these men are brothers behind the badge – and that needs no translation.

“The Iraqi people want the same thing American people want,” Hovanec said. “We want jobs, we want freedom and we want the government to work for the people.”

There will be more delegations, but these men left Wednesday evening with their minds full of new ideas on how to protect their homeland and their hearts believing that peace is a real possibility.

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