EXCLUSIVE: Iraqi police officers train with MPD in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Two police forces, normally half-a-world apart joined forces in Milwaukee, as members of the Iraqi police force trained in Wisconsin.

10 officers from Iraq's Baghdad area were recently trained by Milwaukee's finest -- participating in simulations that teach leadership and practical application of their skills -- as well as learning how to handle deadly situations.

Anthony Hovanec is in charge of the Iraq Police Education Program. It's an idea that started following the U.S. operation in Iraq.

The police force in that Mideast country needed to learn a whole new way to fight crime.

Over three years, the federally funded program has trained nearly 90 Iraqi police officers.

"It's a program that these guys get all these new ideas and hopefully they take them back and maybe one or two of them will stick," Hovanec said.

In a classroom on Milwaukee's west side, veteran officer Colonel Ali Massar Massan listened to a presentation. Through an interpreter, Massan told FOX6 News what he hoped to learn.

"I was mostly surprised by the warm welcoming we received here. I was surprised by the technology and techniques encountering crimes," Massan said.

Milwaukee Police Detective Jim Olson is the man responsible for bringing the group to Milwaukee.

"What we're doing here is we're planting the seed, talking to the officers that are here, and the challenge of policing in a free society," Olson said.

Officer Brad Schlie was assigned to train the Iraqis basic tactical movements.

"They still have the fundamentals of how to interact with each other, and do certain movements. We are just teaching them something new, so for them it is new technology," Officer Schlie said.

Eventually, the student officers moved from the classroom to the training facility, where they received practical instruction from some of MPD's finest.

For these Iraqi officers, learning how to take out the bad guys wasn't the only purpose of the trip. Their eight-day stay in Milwaukee was also a cultural outreach. Massan told FOX6 News the short time he spent in the United States has gone a long way toward ending the stereotypes he had of this country.

"I was completely surprised when I came to the United States, that the morals is not what I see on the movies or the TV. They are completely different," Massan said.

Massan said before his trip he thought the United States was dangerous, and says the image Americans may have of Iraq could be wrong too.

"Iraq is secure, from thew north to the south, one unified people, and there is no terrorism whatsoever in Iraq.  Only very small fractions," Massan said.

"Change is not going to come easy for them, but they are working hard at it. And we all wish them the best of luck and success," Detective Olson said.

Before coming to Milwaukee, the Iraqi police officers also spent two weeks training with Maryland State Police. The trips were made possible through a $5 million federal grant.