Reflections on Global Travel, an irregular journey!

by Dr. Robert Louden, Criminal Justice

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Although I vacationed in Puerto Rico in 1967 and attended an academic conference in Canada in 1989, I did not really travel internationally until @ 23 years ago, at age 47. Following an active 21 year NYPD career I was working at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC. The College President, Gerald W. Lynch, asked me to accompany him and a small group of colleagues on a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. This was a very exciting time to be in Russia. Just four months earlier, in December 1991, the Cold War ended, the Soviet Union (USSR) ceased to exist and fifteen separate countries came into being or re-asserted themselves.  The purpose of our trip was to plan for an international academic conference to be held that June.

I will come back to the April and June 1992 trips, but first some additional information about my overall Global experiences. Although I did not leave the continental United States during my time with the NYPD, 1966-1987, I did benefit from multiple international experiences! Criminal Justice related professionals from throughout the world look forward to visiting NYC for its culture, tourism and law enforcement related experiences. Sometimes the briefings that I conducted or took part in were requested by a particular country; other times by the US Government: Department of State; Defense; Justice; FBI; CIA; Army CID; NCIS. And occasionally by the United Nations.

So, back to my first time. The April 1992 experience is especially memorable. Touring the beautiful and historically rich City of St. Petersburg in juxtaposition with the reality of the nature of the recently ended Cold War and viewing the stark nature of life for the average citizen of St. Petersburg when viewed against the privileged life of the powers that be! More about perks later. There was little stock on the food store shelves; automobile wind shield wiper blades were is such short supply that motorists removed them from their car when they parked overnight; trolley cars appeared to be of the vintage that one would view in an early 1950’s movie; university faculty had not been paid in months. Items that had been discussed long distance prior to our arrival that were slated to be free now had a dollar value attached. When asked why, the one word answer was capitalism. One quick memory the planning trip dealt with was around transportation for conference attendees from the hotel to the primary meeting location. The discussion with our Russian counterparts was something like this: we do not know if we can get sufficient buses; if we do get the busses, we do not know if we can get drivers; if we get drivers, we do not know if they will be sober! What had been anticipated as a put the finishing touches on the logistics of the conference plan was developing into a series of problem solving exercises, all through interpreters.

More next time!

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