News: Iraqi police continue to train, prepare for future missions
By Sgt. Daniel Blottenberger
18th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs Office
FORWARD OPERATING BASE RUSTAMIYAH, Iraq – Only four miles west of the criminal spurred violence in Sadr City, more than forty Iraqi policemen arrive early in the morning to begin training at the al Rashad police station in the New Baghdad District May 15.
Despite being in the shadow of violence in neighboring Sadr City, a stronghold for criminal militias in Baghdad, the al Rashad Iraqi policemen show up to work with smiles on their faces and eager to conduct the days training.
The IP recently completed a Basic Recruit Training and are now conducting a two week on-the-job training program before hitting the streets of al Rashad to police their community.
"This area (New Baghdad District) was bad about a month ago. This was a real big hot spot for crime during the Baghdad uprising," said 2nd Lt. James Shaffer, native of Cumberland, Md., who is a platoon leader with 3rd Platoon, 54th Military Police Company, and oversees Police Transition Team operations in the New Baghdad District.
Violence has begun to decrease in the past month in the New Baghdad District.
"Crime is down lately in the New Baghdad area and around the IP station that we work at," said Sgt. Paul Tram, a native of Anaheim, Calif., who is a military police team leader with 3rd Platoon and conducts PTT operations at various New Baghdad IP stations.
The military police team at the station credits the drop in violence to diligent leadership at the station and the New Baghdad IP taking a more proactive approach to deterring crime.
"This training teaches the IP how to be more proactive in policing their communities," said Shaffer. "The station commander is also very proactive by seeking out guidance from coalition forces and constantly trying to improve his station."
The training Shaffer refers to is a two-week long, on-the-job training program that the IP work through in order to become certified policemen. The classes are taught daily for approximately six hours at the station by Iraqi police advisors. The IPAs are contracted law enforcement personnel, who came to Iraq to help build the IP force from their knowledge and experiences in law enforcement positions.
"Today, we are teaching the IP how to maintain basic police training, foot patrols, dynamic takedown and suspect control, apprehension techniques and responding to an ambush," said Mike Ridgell, an IPA, and a native of Baltimore.
"The training provides the IP a better background and understanding of their daily duties," said Shaffer.
Although the violence has gone down in the area in the past month, the IPA and PTT Soldiers are equally surprised that the IP still chose to join the force in such great numbers when Sadr City is right in their backyard.
"Knowing the violence is going on, and still wanting to come out here and try to make a difference, really shows how much these IP want to improve their community," said Shannon Edison, an IPA and a native of Dayton, Nev.
In the past week, two improvised-explosives devices, one carjacking and one kidnapping were reported to the IP at the station, said Tram.
"Every day, the Rashad police work while knowing they are in harms way," said Tram. "It is our job to train, advise and guide the IP to help them defend their communities."
The team leader (Tram) said he is surprised by the amount of courage the IP have in fighting crime when the shadow of violence in Sadr City is only a few miles away.
"It takes a lot of courage to join a police force during this time of violence," said Tram.
The 54th MP Co. is deployed from Fort Lewis, Wash., and is currently assigned to the 95th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, Multi-National Division – Baghdad.