BREWER (AP) – Three years after he helped bring Western law enforcement standards to war-torn Bosnia, Police Chief Steve Barker will soon be heading to Iraq.

Barker has seen the images of lawlessness in Iraq, with residents looting stores and stealing priceless artifacts from museums in Baghdad. Soon he will be among the first American police officers to go to Iraq to help restore order.

But he is sure it will be different from when he went to Bosnia and worked with hundreds of other law officers from dozens of countries for a year in 1998 and 1999. He got that assignment when he applied to be part of an International Police Task Force, established by the United Nations to go to Bosnia.

“When I went to Bosnia I went into a system that was already up and running,” Barker said. “It’s like they handed me my equipment and said, ‘Here’s your beat, go to work.’ This time nothing has yet been established. I’ll be one of the ones to go in there and help establish the system.”

Barker, 46, has been with the Brewer Police Department for 26 years, more than nine of them as chief.

He is one of 150 police officers across the United States who have been selected to be the first into Iraq. He was called about three weeks ago by Dyncorp, a private company that contracted with the U.S. State Department to recruit and hire professionals for law enforcement, military base security and other needs during and after the war.

Barker will fly to Fredericksburg, Va., on May 5 for a weeklong course on Iraqi culture and the hazards there. Around May 12 he and his fellow officers are scheduled to fly to Kuwait and then into Iraq.

“It’s really not as dangerous as it may sound,” he said. “They really teach you what you need to do to stay safe and they have so many people and so many ways to keep you safe.”

In Barker’s absence, Capt. Danny Green will serve as acting chief, as he did when Barker went to Bosnia.

AP-ES-04-24-03 0215EDT



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