Corsicana Law Officers Keep
Bosnian Peace
Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas


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Corsicana law officers keep Bosnian peace

Associated Press

CORSICANA - It was one of those rare nights in Bosnia when you could sleep without gunfire and screams shaking you from your bed.

Bill Aycock and Joe Jordan were thousands of miles from the solitude of their Corsicana homes, yet amid the torn countryside and shattered buildings, they were enjoying a good night's sleep seemingly without fear of an explosion of anger.

And then the air raid siren sounded, that familiar drone that sent chills through their bodies and sent Aycock scrambling for their radio.

It was 4:30 a.m. An alarm at that hour meant trouble ... big trouble. And they were the centerpoint of the latest conflict in Brcko, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Since May, Corsicana law enforcement officers Jordan and Aycock served with the International Police Task Force for the United Nations. After six months of frustration, Aycock returned to his position as a Navarro County deputy. Jordan is still overseas.

They roomed together in a house in Brcko. There were officers from Great Britain living behind them, and their kindly landlords lived in an adjacent home.

On the street in front of their home early that humid morning, there was an enraged assemblage fired to fury by radio broadcasts urging civil unrest against the peacekeepers. Rumors said the peacekeepers had killed one person and wounded another. Aycock says that untrue.

Aycock quickly radioed the police headquarters where he and Jordan worked, seeking extraction from a potentially dangerous situation. Yes, they were coming, he was told.

"When?" he asked.

"Soon," was the response.

"Soon," he thought to himself. Well, that's a pretty relative term.

He didn't know that would mean 14 hours of waiting, listening, hoping and a lot of thoughts about the warm sunshine of Navarro County.

"There was a lot of waiting and a lot of praying that day," Aycock said. "We waited and waited to see if someone was going to come get us ... and no one came. We heard the British behind us being rescued, and we thought we would be next."

But they weren't. The waiting became even more monotonous and the crowd outside was looking more like a mob.

Their landlords stuffed them into the attic and assured them they would be protected from trouble.

Finally, the Texas officers' landlord flagged down a United Nations press vehicle and urged its photographers to stop shooting photos long enough to get out of rock-throwing range.

"We were very fortunate," Aycock said. "Our landlords were really looking out for us. To them, it was important to keep us safe so they can continue to have boarders. Many of those people who were landlords work for a fee hoping someday to be paid. All the neighbors gathered around as we went to the vehicle to protect us."

That Aug. 28 incident accented Aycock's growing frustration in his work. Less than six months into a yearlong tour, Aycock was ready to come home. He worked well with fellow United Nations officers from Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Ukraine, Finland, Sweden, Jordan, Egypt, Poland and Hungary, but it was the local police that were the problem.

"Right now, the country is in total transition," he said. "Our job was to monitor the police and eventually train police. There just wasn't any compliance. We were in Serb-held territory and they controlled the police.

"We were there to investigate major crimes and human rights violations. We received no cooperation. We were even followed by their special police after we inquired about some of their officers.

 


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