Afghanistan — Afghan Police Learn to Protect and Serve

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. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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