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Comrades in crime fighting get together at lake

Greg Risling

Seven million people and 50,000 public safety officers is a massive responsibility for Alexandr Kulikov.

The colonel-general of militia for the Russian Ministry of the Interior stopped by the South Lake Tahoe police headquarters Monday to see how a small-town agency operates.

Flanked by two FBI agents and an interpreter, the head of one of Russia’s largest state departments visited Tahoe’s police facilities as part of a three-city American tour. Kulikov will finish his trip in Monterey this afternoon after having spent the weekend in San Francisco and Tahoe.

Kulikov oversees an army of sworn uniformed officers, including police, internal affairs, jails and traffic for the Moscow Oblast, a unit of government equivalent to a state. The area is broken into 44 grids, or counties, each with its own commanding staff. Kulikov, a three-star general, has years of expertise and wanted to see up close the American approach to law enforcement. He said the methods of combating crime are somewhat outdated in the former Soviet Union but insight into a country with similar problems – drug running, weapons smuggling, and the mafia – would be a great asset.

“This visit gives us an opportunity to unify our strength of force,” said Kulikov through a Russian translator. “We are studying ways to efficiently deal with street crime, like actively searching for suspects.”

The Russian delegation was shown various aspects of the city’s long arm of the law. They used a laser fingerprinting machine to locate or identify suspects, hopped on the patrol boat that assists with water rescue, and shot a few rounds off at the firing range. Squeezed in with some meals and other scenic stops, the group was pressed for any free time.

Police Chief David Solaro said he contacted the FBI four months ago about Kulikov’s trip and found out that the general had expressed some interest about Tahoe. Once the schedule was arranged, Solaro called upon some of his staff to see if anyone spoke Russian.

“I didn’t want to learn a few phrases and then make a mistake when he came,” joked Solaro. “We had a couple of people who spoke the language but it obviously helped that there was an interpreter who was part of the group.”

The two chiefs exchanged items with their respective logos such as hats, patches and miniature badges. Solaro was presented an interior department medal by Kulikov. After the presentation ceremony, both sides got to work.

“We’ve made innovative changes in several areas like equipment and management that we wanted to show him,” Solaro said. “It’s an honor for South Lake Tahoe to be selected by the general and gives us both an opportunity to learn more about our policing systems.”


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