TARIN KOT, Afghanistan - The dangerous job of the female police officer in Afghanistan is growing in importance.
In Uruzgan province, female Afghan Uniform Police Officers are working with coalition forces to receive the training they need to succeed alongside their male counterparts.
Previously untrained and underutilized, the female officers are learning basic searching, laws and ethics, first aid, and improvised explosive device awareness. They are also receiving training on their service weapon, the AK-47, and learning how to interview a witness and a victim.
“At first, I was not sure if this training program would be successful because it’s challenging to implement a program on such a sensitive subject,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Laura Cargill, lead instructor for the program. “There had been a few attempts to begin a training program with these women in the past and, due to cultural differences, a lasting relationship was not developed."
During the Taliban rule, women were not allowed to work, go to school, or leave their houses without a male relative as an escort. Islamic extremists still protest women gaining these rights, despite the fall of the Taliban more than 10 years ago .
The course was 10 weeks long and was taught by a team of female instructors from the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and Australian Army at the AUP Provincial Headquarters in Tarin Kot.
"After the first few lessons, I could tell that the women took pride in their job and were very willing to learn and better themselves as professional policewomen," Cargill said.
Lt. Col. Gilbert Roldan, a California National Guardsman and a policeman with 24 years of civilian law enforcement experience, coordinated the training program with input from his Afghan counterpart, Col. Gulab.
"I have always recognized that female police officers are instrumental to the success of our police force in the United States," Roldan said. "For the senior AUP leadership to embrace this is a step in the right direction for the police to be on the cutting edge of law enforcement in Uruzgan.”
Upon completion, each female AUP officer received a certificate of completion signed by their Provincial Chief of Police, Brig. Gen. Matiullah Khan. This training will enhance the province's security efforts during the upcoming elections next April.
Afghanistan's Independent Election Committee has stated that 12,000 female police officers and soldiers will be needed nationwide to allow all females to vote in the Presidential elections. So far, only 2,000 of those positions have been filled and female voters risk being unable to vote altogether.
The newly certified AUP officers will work from positions at the Provincial Headquarters in Tarin Kot, and will be used to respond to crime scenes and disturbances where other females are present, as well as work as jailers in female prisons.
"This has been my first interaction with the Afghan women and it has been a rewarding and eye opening experience," Cargill said. "These women face many more hardships and cultural boundaries than we do and I admire them for all they endure."