DPS officials visit Africa to share knowledge through NC National Guard’s partnership with Botswana

Delegates at Botswana's Law Enforcement Academy
Thursday, July 25, 2019 - 2:42pm

A delegation of state officials, including some from the Department of Public Safety, visited the African nation of Botswana in July to share their knowledge with government agencies in that country, as part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program.

NC delegation at US EmbassyNorth Carolina National Guard soldiers and airmen, along with Guard forces from Alabama and New Jersey, participated this month in Upward Minuteman 2019, a large training exercise with the Botswana Defense Forces, promoting the National Guard’s State Partnership programs on the African continent.   
As part of that exercise, several North Carolina government leaders traveled to share American expertise in particular areas where Botswana’s civilian officials wanted to learn - including law enforcement, emergency management, education, transportation and agriculture.  

The civilian delegation was accompanied by North Carolina Adjutant General Gregory Lusk and NCDPS members included State Capitol Police Chief Chip Hawley and Brian Barnes from NC Emergency Management.   It also included representatives from the state departments of Commerce, Transportation, Public Instruction, Agriculture and state universities.  

Barnes, the Emergency Services Branch Manager for NCEM, met with four officials from Botswana’s National Disaster Management Service and shared information about North Carolina’s emergency management organization and programs.
“We discussed opportunities to engage citizens in becoming more prepared for disasters,” said Barnes. “They were also interested in lessons learned from responding to large disasters like hurricanes.” 

State Capitol Police Chief Chip Hawley and Barnes visited Botswana’s International Law Enforcement Academy, where officials wanted to tap in to Hawley’s expertise on response to civil unrest.   Police officers from all over Africa come to Botswana’s academy to train.  Botswana is known as one of the safest countries in Africa, in large part due to the excellent training of its 8,000 person national police force.

“Only a tiny percentage of their police officers carry a gun,” said Hawley. Their police academy lasts for one year and officers spend an entire month learning verbal de-escalation tactics. “There’s a lot we can learn from them in that area,” he said.   Hawley plans to exchange training information on civil unrest for their verbal de-escalation training materials.

Botswana’s national leaders are working to move from an economy rooted in diamond mining, tourism and agriculture to one based on technology and education. “They wanted to know how to create something like Research Triangle Park,” said Hawley. 

There are currently 13 National Guard State Partnerships between the United States and African Nations: North Carolina and Botswana; California and Nigeria; New York and South Africa; Michigan and Liberia; Utah and Morocco; Vermont and Senegal; Wyoming and Tunisia; Kentucky and Djibouti; Massachusetts and Kenya; and Indiana and Niger. The North Dakota Guard is partnered with three countries: Ghana, Togo, and Benin.

The U.S. National Guard’s State Partnership Program began in 1993 with partnerships between the National Guard of designated states and newly independent Eastern European countries.  North Carolina National Guard also has a state partnership with the nation of Moldova.

Keith Acree