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By Curt Brown
Standard-Times staff writer
October 04, 2008 6:00 AM

LAKEVILLE - Retired State Police Lt. Carl MacKnight - not quite ready to swap his gun and shield for a slower pace - is going to Iraq for a year to help train the Iraqi Police Service.
Lt. MacKnight, 49, will leave his wife, Joan, and their two children, ages 11 and 9, today for Virginia, and if he passes two weeks of training as expected, he will go to Georgia for another week before he leaves for Iraq.
He said he is going to Iraq because he wants to give something back to his country.
Lt. MacKnight said he felt a deep sense of frustration after Sept. 11, 2001, and immediately thought about enlisting in the military. However, he said, he could not do that because he was "too darned old." "The next best thing," he said, is using his skills to train Iraqi police officers and recruits.
"I'm glad I have the opportunity to give back to the country," he said. "I'm sure I'll come back a better person. I feel I'm making as much of a contribution as I can."
Lt. MacKnight said he discussed the move with his family and they support him. The separation will be difficult, but he said e-mails and video chats will ease the stress.
Mrs. MacKnight said she has accepted that he will be gone for a year, although she added it has not really sunk in yet.
"Having kids makes it easier because they keep you busy," said Mrs. MacKnight, a pediatric nurse. Her brother will live with the family while her husband is away, she said.
Lt. MacKnight will work for DynCorp International of Falls Church, Va., which has a contract with the U.S. State Department to provide advisers to train police in Iraq.
Douglas Ebner, director of media relations, said DynCorp seeks police with significant field experience in law enforcement who have the ability to impart their skills and training to others in another culture. DynCorp provides free meals, lodging, benefits and equipment for its police advisers in Iraq, according to its Web site.
The salary for police advisers in Iraq is $134,110, which Mr. Ebner said is in line with the hardships they will experience.
Lt. MacKnight said he knows there is danger associated with being in a war zone, but feels it is miniscule in relation to what the soldiers face.
"They are going into houses to conduct searches. I'm going there to teach," he said. "I'm in the rear with the gear."
He also recognizes, though, there are special dangers with his work, since Iraqi police are targets of the insurgents and he will be with them.
"Regardless what role you're taking, if you're helping the Coalition, you're a target," he said.
Danger is nothing new to Lt. MacKnight. He spent about eight years with a state police drug task force assigned to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office. His duties included working undercover in Boston, Chelsea and Revere, posing as a heroin addict and making drug buys.
During the last four years of his state police career, he was commander of the Millbury barracks.
He said he decided to leave the state police in June after his 25th year when his retirement became effective. "Police work is a young man's game," he said.
But he wanted to remain busy.
He had thought maybe he could work at a college campus as a police officer and that would help pay for his children's education, since many schools offer free tuitions for their employees' children.
But he said one college job interviewer looked at his resume and wondered whether he would be happy there, given such an active career in law enforcement. Lt. MacKnight said that was when he realized that the slower pace of a campus police officer would be too much of a change for him.
And that was why he listened when he was approached this past spring about going to Iraq to train police officers.
"It really resonated with me," said Lt. MacKnight, who also spent three years with the Army's 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C., fresh out of Dighton-Rehoboth High School.
He realized police work was his "gift," and he could make a contribution by teaching others what he has learned. After an extensive background check, he learned last month he had been accepted to go to the Middle East.
He said he now feels a campus police job can wait a year.
"Those schools will be there when I get back," he said.

WOW. Commendable move but leaving a 9 and 11 year old behind for that shithole ???????? OOF. Take care and stay safe LT.
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