The author rightly observes that establishing an effective local police force is critical to successful stability operations. An effective police force is a key component to security sector reform, justice sector reform, and the successful transition to the host nation's security force. But because the United States lacks the institutional capacity to provide an immediate and coordinated civilian police training and advisory effort, we are trying to fill this gap through less-effective means — using the military, which tends to focus on those things with which it is most familiar—such as weapons handling, marksmanship, equipment maintenance, and other higher-end police skills rather than those community policing skills that engender community trust and support.
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History shows that the U.S. Government had an effective institutionalized civilian police training capacity from 1954 to 1974, first through the International Cooperation Administration (ICA) and then through its successor organization, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), established in 1961. In 1963, USAID established the International Police Academy in Washington, DC, to train foreign police officers. During its existence, more than 5,000 police officers from 77 countries graduated from the academy. An additional 3,000-plus officers attended specialized courses offered by other U.S. Government agencies but funded by USAID.
Congressional opposition to the training program grew and peaked in 1973, with accusations that police approved, advocated, or taught torture techniques to civilian police from other countries, which in turn damaged the image of the United States. As a result, legislation was enacted which prohibited foreign assistance funds for police support and training within or outside the United States. This required closing the police academy. Current operations have forced us to relook at this issue. Mr. Keller has done so and makes recommendations for a better way ahead.
Topics covered include: stability policing, community based policing, Department of Justice police assistance, Department of State police assistance.