BAQUBAH, Iraq (American Forces Press Service, Jan. 3, 2007) - About 125 Iraqi police officers, assigned to various units in the Baqubah area, graduated from the first Iraqi Police Training Academy in Baqubah, Dec. 24.

"Officers from the Emergency Ready Forces, the Quick Reaction Forces, and Baqubah Iraqi police (IP) participated in this two-week long training academy," said Maj. John J. Herrman, Task Force Blue operations officer. "Those officers are now ready to assume their duties as the rule of law enforcers here in Baqubah."

The training for the IP officers was provided by their own Iraqi instructors and special weapons and tactics team, otherwise known as SWAT, said Herrman.

"Instructors from the Tactical Iraqi Police Academy provided the classroom portion of the training; the range cadre taught weapons handling and maintenance, and SWAT members assisted with the hands-on portion of the training," said Herrman. "We provided oversight through the (Iraqi police liaison officer) and our Military police."

The training included classes on democratic policing, the Iraqi Constitution, rule of law, weapons safety, proper firing techniques for both AK-47 rifles and handguns, shoot and maneuver, hands-on defensive techniques, dismounted patrolling as a member of a team, mounted patrols, react to improvised explosive devices, first aid, and entering and clearing a building, said Herrman.

He also said that during this training, the IPs received their new uniforms and equipment that signifies they are real police officers.

"The training academy will continue providing classes every day through the end of January, and quarterly after that," Herrman said. "They expect to have at least 25 percent of the Baqubah police force trained by the end of the third training cycle."

"For most police officers here, this was their first formal training," he continued. "They have been out on the streets mixing it up for years, never fully understanding the proper way to use a weapon, the rule of law, the constitution they are to support, or how to conduct themselves as a policeman. We hope that the course turns out a more ethically and tactically proficient policeman, able to better enforce the laws of Diyala, and to serve and protect all Iraqis."

"The Iraqi policemen are some of the bravest people we have ever met," said an American police advisor supporting Task Force Blue. "They risk their lives, and those of their families, on a daily basis trying to bring law and order to the streets of their cities. The training we are providing is designed to save some of those lives and extract a high price from the terrorists and insurgents who choose to attack these officers."

Maj. Gen. Ghassan Adnan Awad Al-Bawi, the Diyala chief of police, attended the ceremony, and provided the graduates a motivational speech on the importance of training, regardless of their years of service as police officers.