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Reconstructing Police Stations Adds to Iraqi Security

By Pat Jones
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 23, 2004 – During the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, many Iraqi police left their posts, and looters and vandals destroyed most of the police stations in Baghdad. The same was true in major cities throughout Iraq.

Today, despite the risks of being a police office, police academies are swelling the ranks of the Iraqi police forces with thousands of new graduates. These graduates want to be a part of building a safe, democratic Iraq. It is a dangerous job, but overwhelmingly these officers say they want to serve their country.

There remains at least one major problem -- they need police stations.

To help meet that need, the Army Corps of Engineers is investing more than $22 million to renovate or reconstruct about 240 police stations throughout the country.

In addition to helping provide much-needed security, the program supports reconstruction goals by using local contractors, and thereby directly supports the rebuilding of Iraq's infrastructure. It provides work for the local businesses, and it puts money directly into the local Iraqi economy.

"The rebuilding of the police stations shows the community that a safer, more secure daily life is within its grasp. It also sends a clear message to the insurgents that the security forces will not be deterred," said Steve Stockton, director of business management for the Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division.

The majority of the stations will receive renovation and a facelift. The major goal is to bring all the stations to at least minimum standards. This will ensure that each of the stations has water, power and sewage service. Many buildings have been vandalized, and fixtures are missing due to looting.

Each location will be individually assessed for specific reconstruction requirements. Work will include, where needed, new doors, windows, electrical wiring, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, flooring, wall repairs, painting, and all other repairs to restore the facility to a safe and functional police station. The program is providing all required renovation or construction for the police stations, including administration and support areas, parking lots, and pedestrian and vehicular circulation.

The work will also provide additional security to include perimeter controls, standoffs, blast protection, including hardened windows, and interior- controlled entry and passage.

Local officials and military commanders determine priority for which stations are renovated first, said Jackie Purrington, project manager.

"It's a matter of relationships. Those commanders are the ones dealing with the local officials every day. The local governates provide the commanders with a prioritized list of where they think renovations are needed," Purrington said. "The commanders are in a position to see where the need is the greatest, and they make their decision based on those observations and the input from the local officials."

Then the Corps of Engineers executes the contracts and ensures the work is done according to specifications, she said.

"Our work here shows our continued commitment to help rebuild Iraq so (the Iraqis) may become more self-sufficient and provide their own security," Purrington said. "We've got a lot of good people working here to make that happen, Iraqi as well as the other nationalities."

The work is difficult; the sheer magnitude of numbers, the dangers of travel, and problems of communicating show that nothing is easy here. "If it was easy, they wouldn't need us," said Purrington. "But this is a job we must complete. ... Failure simply isn't an option."

(Pat Jones is assigned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division.)

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division

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