By Frank Main
Chicago Sun-Times Crime Reporter
Secretary of State John Kerry singled out the Chicago Police Department on Monday as one of 60 U.S. law enforcement agencies that have recently worked with other nations in "developing the rule of law."
More than 25 Chicago Police officers have participated in State Department missions over the past eight years, most recently in Mexico and Honduras. In Mexico, Chicago Police officers have been involved in a U.S. program to combat drug trafficking and production.
Under the Merida initiative, Chicago Police officers helped train members of Mexico's national police force, which has grown more than 300 percent in recent years, officials said.
The State Department is also focused on training state and municipal police officers in Mexico. About three weeks ago, U.S. authorities were pleased to hear Mexico's new president, Enrique Pena Nieto, say he supports efforts to work with state governments in Mexico to improve their law enforcement capabilities, said William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs.
"We do not have the final plan," Brownfield said.
Under the State Department program, the U.S. government pays the Chicago Police officers and provides food, lodging, transportation and security. In Mexico, the Chicago Police officers have been able to gain intelligence about narcotics organizations that sell drugs in Chicago -- and build relationships with their law enforcement counterparts in Mexico, officials said.
"It's a win-win," Brownfield said, adding, "Chicago has become a very effective partner."
Nicholas Roti, chief of the Chicago Police Department's Bureau of Organized Crime, was in Washington on Monday for the State Department's recognition of the Chicago Police officers, Brownfield said. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) attended the ceremony where the Chicago Police officers were honored.
Roti and he said was in El Salvador twice on missions in which the State Department
provided training on investigating gang crimes and homicides.
"It definitely helped us understand the people better," he said. "It was an