Thick black smoke, twisting piles of debris and flat, scorched ground are all that remains of some places Michael Ward and Bryan Carter of northern Kentucky have regularly visited in Ukraine in recent years.
Ward and Carter, both retired police chiefs, have spent years teaching community policing in cities and rural towns across Ukraine. Weeks after an unprovoked Russian invasion, both men remain stunned by scenes of devastation – and images of determined, wounded and exhausted people trying to flee their beloved Ukraine.
‘War criminal’:As Biden gets personal with Putin, US-Russia relations face a dangerous crisis
Last move: Mapping and tracking the Russian invasion of Ukraine
“It was one of the safest countries you could go to,” said Carter, who led Covington Police for three years and began training Ukrainian police in 2017. “What’s going on right now moment is a complete shock. It’s unimaginable.”
Satellite images, surveillance footage and social media posts show the latest news on the war in Ukraine
Carter and Ward, who led Alexandria Police for 18 years, trained more than 400 police officers and spent time with them and their families in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv; in Kharkiv, a predominantly Russian-speaking city under siege; Irpin; Lvov; and Dnipro as well as the rural areas surrounding the cities.
They are frustrated and worried and yearn to help their friends in Ukraine. They spoke to The Enquirer last week about their experiences in Ukraine and how they are coping.
What did you learn about people?
Carter: “They absorbed it all. The police, they wanted to know everything about community policing. The interaction between the police and the community was limited, but they wanted to increase that interaction, to be part of the problem-solving process.”
District: “Every time we walked around the city of kyiv, you would see a babushka, a grandmother, outside with her old broom cleaning the sidewalk and the sidewalk. They have a lot of pride. In rural areas… what you would see see, these are people who work to make ends meet. Some of the kindest hosts you can imagine.”
Here’s how to help the beleaguered people of Ukraine during the Russian invasion
Do you know of any police deaths there?
Carter: “Nineteen police officers were lost.”
District: “One that we both trained was lost. He has a wife and two young children.”
How do you sleep?
District: “I was up at 3 a.m. this morning, texting What’s App back to some people there. I’m like, ‘What the hell can we do to help in a meaningful way?'”
Carter: “There is a check-in system, an electronic ‘buddy’ system, used by a lot of Ukrainians. I got up around 3 or 4 a.m. to check it. Because they are six hours early .”
Chief Carter, you have an adopted son from the Ukraine. How is he ?
Carter: “You feel extremely helpless. He’s 27. He has a brother in Ukraine who is fighting as part of the resistance. He’s conflicted with being here, but he’s getting by.”
What is the role of your former interns in Ukraine now?
District: “They now have special police regiments. Some of them are at checkpoints or in convoys, bringing supplies.”
Tell me a story about someone you met in Ukraine.
District: “One day we went to a Chinese restaurant in kyiv for lunch. One woman wore a three-quarter sleeve and she had a tattoo that started on her wrist. We asked him about it. ) It was the Statue of Liberty.
“I asked her, had she ever been to the United States? She replied no, that she had never left kyiv. “But my dream is to be as free as you are.”
Carter: “I worked with a lot of people there. Some of the colleagues became friends. One of them, Ty Mur, also teaches young officers community policing. He is a deputy chief in Kirovograd. Once that we were done working, Ty Mur would just pick us up and take us to places we wouldn’t normally go.”
What is your biggest fear?
District: “My biggest fear is that the West, be it Europe, the United States or Canada, will continue to sit idly by and allow this to happen.”
Carter: “My greatest fear is the continuation of atrocities and these attacks taking the form of chemical or biological attacks.”
What is your greatest hope?
District: “Let Putin step aside and allow Ukraine to continue to be a sovereign nation.”
Carter: “My greatest hope is that Mr. Putin is overthrown and he has to pay for it – but he can’t pay for the trauma. He can’t take away the trauma he caused. is not really a hope.”
Ward and Carter have created a fund for items that go directly to police in Ukraine. Here’s how it works:
- Ward and Carter take donations through US .Bank.
- They identify the needs of the police with the personnel stationed in Ukraine.
- Staff locate equipment.
- Carter and Ward provide staff with funds for purchases.
- Staff sends back invoices and confirmation that items have been delivered.
So far, officers have asked for immediate needs such as first aid kits, long underwear, sleeping bags, socks and tourniquets. To donate, go to the sponsor’s website, Kentucky Police Chiefs Association.”