Afghan Police Learn to Protect and Serve
By Judith Snyderman
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, July 23, 2010 Afghan Ministry of Interior officials recognize that their nation needs a professional, values-based police force, so they are working with NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan to embed a code of ethics into the foundation of the country’s police education system.
Dr. Jack Kem, deputy to the commander of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, said during a “DoDLive” Bloggers Roundtable on July 22 that the creation of the Afghan National Police Professional Education system will instill high ethical values in recruits and ensure that experienced officers adhere to them. He said introductory through continuing education courses will reinforce those lessons.
“There are certain components that turn a job into a profession and then into a lifetime of service,” Kem said. He described the police code of ethics as including three basic precepts; service to nation, respect for citizens and the performance of police duties with integrity.
Beyond the code of ethics, Kem said other measures are reducing corruption and having a positive impact on how policing is perceived. For instance, he said, the government is aggressively pursuing officers who are corrupt and police now earn sufficient wages on which to live.
“That is one thing that takes away one of the incentives for perhaps taking a bribe or using your position for personal gain,” Kem explained.
In response to a blogger’s question about a reported pay glitch for police in southern Afghanistan, Kem said NTM-A has sent pay teams to the region to fix the problem. He said most police wages are now paid by electronic funds transfers into bank accounts. In Helmand and Kandahar provinces, he said, that requires opening more ATM’s and bank branches, an effort that is underway.
Another goal, Kem said, is building a sustainable Afghan police force that reflects the society that it serves. He added this is happening now in Afghanistan.
“I think there is a growing realization of the importance of using all of their society, particularly of using women in the police and in the army as well,” he said.
Kem explained that the need to have female screeners available at borders and in airports has contributed to the goal of recruiting 5,000 women police officers over the next two years. As they go through training and prove themselves to be capable, he said, Afghan women police officers are changing Afghan society. People are seeing that, “they can be professional, they can be proficient, they can qualify on their weapons and they are absolutely an essential part of the police force,” he noted.
Overall, Kem said, there are currently 106,000 Afghan National Police, and on any given day 9,000 of them are in training. To ensure that the commitment to professionalism endures, Afghanistan is seeking international partners who will remain after NTM-A’s mission ends, he said.
“The European police have been very active in looking to take that role,” Kem said. He added that while it will take time, he is confident Afghanistan is on track to build a strong and capable police force that will protect and serve the people of Afghanistan.