KIRKUK, Iraq, Dec. 19, 2006 - New recruits, who graduated from the Transition Integration Police Academy on Dec. 17, will join Iraqi police stations throughout the 37 districts of the province to help make the Kirkuk area safer.

"In front of me are men that understand what duty, honor and country mean," said Lt. Col. Samuel Whitehurst, deputy commander, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. "They have pledged themselves that the Kirkuk people will live in peace."

The 53 graduates completed an intensive 12-week course learning Iraqi law, human rights, criminal law and self-defense.

"The course teaches them to think for themselves and be more reliable to one another," said Larry Johnson, senior International Police Liaison Officer.

The TIP academy has been operational since December 2003 and has graduated 3,700 students from 28 classes. Students' ages range from 17 to 55 and their level of education varies. There are no minimum requirements currently for the academy. The focus is to employ trained policemen and provide greater security throughout the province.

The academy also conducts courses in criminal evidence gathering, improvised explosive device recognition and reaction, and advanced training for police sergeants. The academy plans to conduct additional supervisory courses for Iraqi police officers and open a computer room for future training.

"We don't just teach them to shoot," said Johnson. "They learn self-confidence, loyalty, dedication and duty to their community and country."

The new recruits come from many different areas of Iraq and learn to work together regardless of ethnicity. The Arabs, Kurds, Turkomen, and Assyrians are all represented.

"We see progress here every day," said Whitehurst. "Kirkuk represents a small Iraq. We have representatives from all religions and tribal communities. I believe the future of Kirkuk is bright."

The importance of the academy is to train quality policemen, well versed in law enforcement and able to secure the streets of Kirkuk.

"We teach them from the first steps of self-defense to how to react to civilians on the streets," said Lt. Col. Hussein, chief TIP instructor.

During the graduation ceremony, the recruits conducted three practical exercises demonstrating their proficiency in self-defense, security, and teamwork.

"Watching TV back home, the people are discouraged," said Whitehurst. "I wish they could see something like this, the Iraqi police committed to securing their country and the dedication of the men here."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16