KIRKUK, Iraq -- Once known as a hub of insurgent activity and violence, the city of Hawijah, Iraq, and its residents received a ray of hope as another one of the city's police stations was validated, Sept. 3.

Officers at the station trained for months with military policemen from the 218th MP Company to ensure they achieved the set standards to demonstrate their proficiency at specific police tasks and become officially certified that they are able to operate independently.

"They [IP] did a lot of urban combat and room clearing training," said Staff Sgt. Juan Salinas, a Sealy, Texas, native and one of the MPs responsible for the training. "They also trained on how to conduct mounted and dismounted patrols, perform vehicle searches with and without military working dogs, collect and store evidence and detect explosives."

According to Salinas, the police officers at this station were easy to train with.

"They take their jobs very seriously. They are always happy to see us, and talk to
us. Anytime we came for training, they would collect as many officers as they could for it, and they were always focused on the training."

"The process of validating a station can be quite long, involving the police station performing to standard on many different tasks," said 1st Lt. Cullen Metzler, a Washington, Pa., native, and platoon leader with 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, who's unit partners with this station.

But, according to Metzler, the pros of being validated outweigh the difficulty of achieving it.

"It gives them a sense of legitimacy," he said. "Having the city officials and IP leadership acknowledge them builds their unit pride."

It also means they will be able to conduct their own training with the confidence of knowing they have all the necessary skills, explained Salinas.

"When new IPs arrive to the station, the experienced officers will be able to train them, and bring them to the level they need to be at," he said.

The provincial police chief, Maj. Gen. Jamal, spoke during the validation.

"We are very proud of these officers and this station," he said. "They have done a very good job and a very loyal to this city."

Only a few days after the validation, the station proved the effectiveness of the training.

"We had to clear a building," said Salinas. "They knew exactly what they were doing. They looked in every corner and did everything they had to do."

Now that they are validated, Metzler believes they can help reduce crime and violence in the city. "The criminal aspect is closely tied with insurgent activities."

According to Metzler, it is much easier for the IPs to go out and pursue the criminals inside their own city, and he believes this station is competent and ready to perform this task.

In the future, this station will work closely with its U.S. counterparts, and MPs will continue to provide additional training at the request of the Iraqi Police.

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