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Police officer’s Iraq video spotlights kids

By Tim Ruzek

The Post-Bulletin

An Austin police officer working in Iraq has posted pictures from his mission on an online video montage.

Rene Phan, an eight-year Austin police member who’s on an unpaid absence while in Iraq, left last spring to begin a one-year duty as an international police officer.

In late July, Phan posted the video on YouTube, a Web site where people share, comment on and view videos.

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Phan’s video, "Iraqi Freedom 2006: The Kids," shows pictures of children his team has come across during its mission in Iraq.

"They still seem to find a reason to smile," wrote Phan in his description of the video, which lasts eight minutes and 23 seconds.

Toys and goods handed out in the video were donated by various Austin citizens, businesses and groups, including Law Enforcement Center members.

Phan, who’s serving in Baghdad, is expected to return to duty with Austin police in April, Police Chief Paul Philipp said.

Philipp showed the video Thursday morning during a regular meeting with the media.

The chief said the montage shows a different face to what’s happening in Iraq. It depicts the human side of the situation and how Iraqi kids are just kids even though they’re growing up in a tough area, he said.

Phan returned to Austin about a month ago for a few weeks before heading back to Iraq, Philipp said.

"What a life-changing event for Rene," he said.

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When requesting the Austin City Council’s approval in January, Phan said the mission was "something that I absolutely need to do." He planned to help create Iraqi police stations, monitor activities and advise Iraqi police on investigation methods.

Go online

To see Austin police officer Rene Phan’s picture video online, go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXk1RhWp7t0. You also can go to www.youtube.com and search for "k9joker."

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