News: Diyala Provincial Police practice crime scene preservation
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq – “Warrior” Brigade soldiers with the Diyala Province Police Transition Team attended a crime scene investigation exercise conducted by the Iraqi provincial police’s Emergency Response Force and Crime Scene Management Team at Baquba, Iraq, May 15.
Iraqi Police members used the course as an opportunity to exhibit their ability to respond to an emergency, use first responders to secure and cordon the scene, and allow CSM Team members into the area to preserve the crime scene and collect evidence.
“The ERF training exercise exemplifies things that the Diyala police have been training for over the past year,” said Lt. Col. John B. Shattuck, chief of the PTT, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. “The ERF has come a long way with their tactical proficiency as well as understanding their role in the police force.”
ERF members acted as first responders during the murder scenario. After entering and securing the area, the ERF questioned witnesses and called in the CSM Team to take over the investigation.
Chief of Police Training in Diyala province, Lt. Col. Ali, said he enjoyed seeing different agencies of the provincial police working side by side to achieve a common objective.
Once the CSM Team arrived on scene, the ERF team leader ensured a positive handoff of authority on the crime scene, providing the CSM officer in charge with all of the collected information.
The CSM officer ensures preservation of the crime scene as well as evidence collection and processing to enable arrest warrants, and ultimately, prosecutions.
“Preservation of evidence is crucial; perhaps the most crucial part of the legal process,” said Ali. “It allows us to make identifications and find suspects so that we can detain them.”
During Operation New Dawn, U.S. forces remained present in an advisory role, assisting when requested, while Iraqi Policemen took the lead on operations and built up their forces.
Shattuck and his team advised provincial police forces on advanced law enforcement skills and identified areas for the IP leaders to improve their efficiency and skills to get more in depth with crime solving.
Iraqi Police units then trained their officers to go beyond fundamentals of crime scene investigation to take a deeper look into patterns and crack organized extremist networks, said Shattuck.
“One year ago, the IPs in the province were very good at solving individual crimes, such as murder cases, however, if the crime was backed by a complex network of organized crime or an insurgency, that was a bit beyond their level of expertise,” said Shattuck. “They are much more capable now; they are able to map and identify networks, put the evidence together so that they can issue warrants and eventually prosecute.”
Shattuck said the PTT’s goals at the start of partnered operations were to identify the police force’s developmental needs and then begin to synchronize efforts of different agencies within the Iraqi Police to help develop those areas to reach mission essential capability.
Members of the PTT worked with Iraqi leaders of the various police agencies within Diyala province, focusing on three developmental areas: criminal investigation, evidence procedure and institutional training development.
“With criminal investigation, we wanted to work together with the IP leaders to focus on improving their ability to investigate and prosecute a criminal network,” said Shattuck. “This has been the area of greatest gain, really. It’s something that will be more and more evident over time. The IP ability to map and investigate criminal and insurgent networks has done a lot to stabilize the cities in the province.”
The Crime Scene Management Team’s main objective is to follow up first responders at a crime scene and act as technicians to preserve the scene and collect the evidence that will lead to prosecutions.
“The IP had 63 crime scene technicians with the criminal evidence directorate when we first arrived,” said Shattuck. “Since we have been here, they have gotten more equipment fielded, and they are tied in with the forensics crime labs down in Baghdad. Teams like the Crime Scene Management Team are now out there preserving, collecting and processing evidence for court.”
Provincial police also focused on institutional training and development for officers, said Shattuck.
“The Iraqi Police agencies have been able to make great gains with their ability to institutionalize training and the development of individual policeman over the past year,” said Shattuck.
Iraqi Police forces run a completely self-funded and self-directed training center for operations and development courses, Shattuck said.
Nearly 500 Iraqi policemen now cycle through the institution each month, focusing individual certification training on a wide variety of police courses ranging from initial scene processing to prosecution and detainee rights.
The progress made has been tremendous, said Ali, but there are still criminals out there and they are getting harder to catch. It is up to police to stay one step ahead of criminals, get the job done and bring them down.
“For the Iraqi Police, the line between counterinsurgency and solving crimes is blurred,” said Shattuck. “These guys are by far the best suited to counter a … insurgency, where the terrorist networks have receded into the criminal population. They are the best trained to not only detect networks, but also to prosecute once they have captured an individual.”