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Officer trading comforts of home for Afghan beat

From the streets of Brookhaven to the streets of Afghanistan,the mission will be much the same for a local woman – to protectthe innocent.

Sudie Palomarez, 43, a Brookhaven police officer and formerLincoln County sheriff’s deputy, will leave for Afghanistan inAugust as part of force of 600 officers recruited nationwide andtasked with training police officers and guarding sites whilepolice stations are constructed.

“I’m sure we’ll have to do some patrolling too as part oftraining their officers,” she said. “This is an important mission.I think anybody deserves to live safe and free. Somebody has togive them that.”

DynCorp, of Texas, a large private security firm with governmentcontracts to provide assistance and training to police officers inAfghanistan and Iraq, selected officers for the program.

It was a tough and rigorous selection process that’s lasted morethan a year, Palomarez said.

“I feel like it’s something I need to do,” she said. “It’s theultimate police job – a far bigger challenge than anything I’veever undertaken. And I’m not getting any younger. I think if Idon’t do this now, I never will.”

The mother of three said her children are old enough tounderstand her concerns and their own fears.

Savannah Palomarez said she is supporting her mother’s decisiondespite her own worries.

“I hear about people getting hurt over there all the time,” shesaid, “but if it’s something she wants and feels she needs to do…”

The level of danger in Afghanistan is a concern, the elderPalomarez admits, but she is used to holding potentially hazardousoccupations.

The Lincoln County native joined the Marine Corps in 1982 aftergraduating from Copiah-Lincoln Community College. After leaving theCorps in 1991, Palomarez went to Washington and took her first jobas an officer of the law as a deputy for the Franklin CountySheriff’s Department. She stayed there five years before returninghome.

Back in Mississippi, Palomarez became a Lincoln County deputy,serving for six years in that capacity. Nearly a year ago, shetransferred to the Brookhaven Police Department.

“When I come back, I hope to work in the PD again,” she said.”The chief has been very supportive of me.”

Palomarez will have the opportunity to be a bit nostalgic inAfghanistan. The officers assigned to the mission will be stayingmuch of the time on military installations in tents, she said.

“Preliminary information we have indicates it may be a lot likethe field encampments I was used to in the service,” she said.

In the meantime, Palomarez said she has been doing a lot ofresearch of the Afghan people and their customs.

“I know there will be a language barrier. I don’t want there tobe a cultural barrier as well,” she said.

Palomarez said she is the only Mississippi officer on themission.