By Army Sgt. 1st Class Joe Thompson
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 17, 2009 - The 772nd Military Police Company and the Iraqi police advisor team are starting a new approach to police training in Iraq's Wasit province that will provide a sustainable training system for when coalition forces leave the country. "Our overall goal is to start a program in Wasit that can be a model for the rest of the country," said Army Staff Sgt. Elton Dean, headquarters squad leader, 772nd MP Company. "What we want to do is give the minister of interior a reason to institute a program like this in order to make the entire country of Iraq better, not just the province of Wasit."
The new training approach involves a mobile training team that will travel to outlying and local police stations and focus on the train-the-trainer program for each station.
"With the time frame that we're looking at, it's real important right now that we start looking at a way that we can start making them more self-reliant and continue their training and be able to have the fundamentals down," said Dean, of Douglas, Mass. "When we are gone, they can continue to train and be able to police themselves and not have to look around for answers."
The training will focus on everything from community policing, ethics, basic law enforcement procedures, crime scene protection, crime scene processing and leadership courses to any identified training that the local police stations may need. The training structure was built around assessments from Maj. Gen. Raad, Wasit's provincial director of police.
It also will establish different training for the officers, noncommissioned officers and regular Iraqi police officers.
""One of the things we have been looking at is how can you, as a leader, keep accountability of your Iraqi police officers and keep the standards enforced if you don't actually understand what they are," Dean explained. "This new training approach will address that problem."
The training approach is sustainable, Dean said, not only because the Iraqi police will be trained under the train-the-trainer program, but also because each police station and the police headquarters will have training officers to track the progress of the training across the province. And the 772nd MP Company is well-suited for the mission, he added.
"What's good about the 772 being here is that it is a National Guard company, where we do have a lot of civilian police officers and we bring a lot of civilian policing experience to the table," Dean said. "This helps the Iraqi police get away from the military mindset, because the military and the police are two different functions. We're able to bring enough of that civilian experience so that we can mentor them on a level that they should be mentored at."
The Iraqi police advisors are scheduled to begin the new training program in the next few weeks, as soon as the provincial director of police indentifies the initial set of instructors to be trained, Dean said.
(Army Sgt. 1st Class Joe Thompson serves with the 41st Fires Brigade.)