Iraqi policemen celebrate their graduation at al Anbar Ramadi District Training Headquarters in May. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Casey Jones)
CAMP RAMADI, Iraq (June 23, 2008) — Over the last two years, Ramadi has seen a dramatic rise in the number of policemen as the city progressively moves toward the final steps in becoming fully independent.
In 2006, there were very few police in Ramadi when violence engulfed the city, the citizens lived in fear, and al-Qaida had a firm grip on the region.
In the first two weeks of 2007, the city experienced an unexpected surge of applicants seeking to join the force. During that two-week span, more than 1,000 applicants sought law enforcement jobs in Ramadi, according to Army Maj. Thomas Shoffner, operations officer for the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division.
The turning point for the boost in applicants was the murder of a well-known sheik in August 2006. The murderers hid his body for three days, denying his family the right to bury him in accordance with Islamic tradition. After the killing, tribal leaders could not tolerate al Qaeda’s lawlessness and violence throughout their land and formed an alliance against the terrorist network called, Sahawa al-Anbar, or the “Awakening Council.”
Now the number of Iraqis seeking to become policemen remains high. This is due in part to the professionalism of the Ramadi Training Center, which trains and mentors the newly recruited policemen, and the insight provided by the awakening.
“During the awakening, many citizens of al-Anbar realized what the right thing to do was and what the wrong thing to do was,” said Sheik Haji Talib through an interpreter.
“The insurgents gave the wrong picture of coalition forces. They said coalition forces are invaders so we should fight them. They were able to get into the people’s minds and tell us the wrong things and lies. When the people realized they were wrong, they started waking up and started doing the right thing.”
Ramadi remains safe as a result of the awakening and fully functioning police training center. The training center is run by the Iraqi Police Training Cadre, International Police Advisors and the Army’s 194th Military Police Company, offering recruits the best law enforcement schooling by international experts and specialists.
“The policemen will go to a variety of different stations within all of the Ramadi precincts almost immediately after they graduate the 11-day course or as soon as their station directs them to report,” said Capt. Gerard C. Dempster, Headquarters and Service Company Commander with 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, and direct liaison for the Iraqi security forces.
The city has nearly reached the desired number of policemen considered necessary to keep Ramadi safe, Dempster said. The school’s leaders will continue training recruits and placing policemen on the streets to further restrain the insurgents and their illicit activities.