All Rights reserved
A gay police officer from Missoula, Mont., is heading to Afghanistan to help train that country's National Police force, the Associated Press reports. Scott Oak, the Missoula police department's gay liaison officer, said he is taking a one-year leave to complete the task.
"I could be training police on everything from human rights to building searches," Oak told the AP. "Ideally, I think that by going over there and helping out as a civilian instructor, it will make for a smoother transition and allow America to pull out of there more quickly."
Oak decided to go to Afghanistan after receiving a call from officials with the State Department. Apparently they became aware of him after he came out in the news media and took the job as Missoula's first police liaison to gays and lesbians.
The State Department tapped Oak to conduct training in human and civil rights, ethics, diversity, and basic police operations. "I want to go experience another culture without breaking my commitment to public service," he told the AP, adding that he hopes his experience as a police liaison officer will help "enlighten them about cultural diversity." "A lot of people think I'm crazy," he said, "but for me, it's just another challenge and an opportunity to help people in need."
Oak said his biggest concern is leaving his partner and the teenage foster son they are raising together. "The longest we've been apart is 12 months," Oak said. "They'll both receive a lot of support through the foster program and from our families, but it's still going to be difficult on us." (The Advocate)