Hayden Police Chief Ray Birch talks about reserve officer Rachelle Redmond working in Afghanistan to train police.
Steamboat Springs When an instructor asked a room full of people hoping to become Defense Department contractors who train police officers overseas if any of them could break down an AK-47, only one hand rose to the air. It was the hand of Rachelle Redmond, a 47-year-old mother of two.
Redmond, a reservist with the Hayden Police Department, has a knack for weapons. As a result, she was the only woman deployed with a group of about 40 to Kabul, Afghanistan, where she trains police officers to use their guns.
"The interesting thing is that Rachelle, for a female, is very competent with firearms," said Hayden Police Chief Ray Birch. Birch said Redmond, who has never been in the military, plans to stay with the town after her yearlong deployment as a Defense Department contractor.
Birch said Redmond, who also worked 12 years for the Routt County Sheriff's Department, isn't good at just breaking down and rebuilding weapons; she can shoot them, too. Birch said Redmond was always one of the top shooters at the sheriff's department. Ken Klinger, a Routt County investigator and Redmond's partner for 12 years, agreed.
"She pretty much outshot everybody," Klinger said. Birch and Klinger are in frequent contact with Redmond via e-mail.
"We see improvement in the students each day," Redmond wrote in an e-mail to Birch. "The myth that they won't work with or respect American women is just that. I have a lot of fun working with the Afghan instructors, students, and occasionally we have female students. Yes, Afghan women are becoming police officers!"
Klinger, who also has done contract work, said Redmond was given an opportunity to do something different. "It's kind of a sabbatical from your everyday job," Klinger said. "You interface with a large number of extraordinary people with extraordinary skill sets."
Klinger said Redmond has many extraordinary skills that will serve her well in Kabul. "She has a good grasp of teaching methodology. She's an excellent communicator. And she's very resourceful."
Klinger said that there is always an element of danger for Redmond in Kabul. But, he said, the only danger she has experienced so far is bombings that she heard about on television.
Redmond will be back home for two weeks in August before returning to her contract work.