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1/5 stands up Ramadi police force

28 Aug 2005 | Cpl. Tom Sloan

Iraq’s volunteer forces will soon be doing more than patrolling the streets in a combat posture, they’ll be walking a beat, as the new police force gains momentum in the capital city. So far, more than 500 men have visited the Ramadi Police Headquarters and volunteered to protect and serve. This recent motivation prompted 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment to launch an operation to ensure only qualified men fill the ranks, according to Capt. Arturo Hernandez, assistant operations officer with Headquarters and Service Company. “Our mission is to stand up a legitimate police force that’s capable of protecting Ramadi and its residents,” said the 33-year-old from San Diego, Calif. The infantry battalion set up a facility at the police headquarters in May of this year to accomplish this task. After a screening process, the men are trained in police work. The facility neighbors the Government Center where a platoon of Company A Marines stand sentry at an observation post. Staff Sgt. Douglas D. Kilmer, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines’ mess chief with Headquarters and Service Company, six Marines, two interpreters, one Navy corpsman and a soldier man the facility. Each morning between 50 and 100 men gather outside the police headquarters’ entrance and wait to undergo screening from the 37-year-old from Murrieta, Calif., and his team. “We screen about 50 men a day,” said Kilmer. Ten men are let in at a time and are searched by two Iraqi police officers under the supervision of Lance Cpl. Christopher M. Johnson, a legal clerk with H & S Company. After the detailed search is complete, the 23-year-old from Maybee, Mich., escorts the men to the screening facility where they are given a brief before beginning the selection process. “We are selecting members for the Iraqi Police Force,” said Capt. Barton K. Nagle, the intelligence officer for H & S Company. He relayed information to the Iraqis through Spc. Redouane Rahli, a linguist with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, during a recent operation. “We want to hire people who want to help protect their city and the members of their city,” said Rahli. “If you qualify you may become a police officer.” The men then are then entered into the facility’s administration system. “We record everything on their ID cards,” the 2000 Dundee High School graduate said while writing a man’s name into a logbook. “Names, ages, addresses -- the lot. It all gets recorded.” Petty Officer 3rd Class Loui C. Villanueva, a Corpsman with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines’ battalion aid station, gives each man a physical examination. “I check their hearts, lungs and all the basics,” said the 24-year-old from Vancouver, British Columbia. “I also check their range of motion to make sure they can fire a weapon and chase criminals.” When the 1998 Channal Islands High School graduate deems them fit for duty, they take an oral and written examination and are questioned why they want to be police officers. “We want to find out what are their motives,” said Hernandez. In the Coalition Forces’ quest to restore Ramadi’s infrastructure, Hernandez says, establishing a competent police force free of bad cops is vital. “This is our AO (area of operations) and were responsible.” Three Marines also enter each man into the Biometric Automated Toolset (BAT) before their screening is complete. “The BAT is a way for us to keep track of them,” said Lance Cpl. Adam R. Pulido, an intelligence analyst with H & S Company. The BAT is a system that takes iris scans, records fingerprints, and takes digital photos of individuals, explained the 21-year-old from Sonoma, Calif. “We have a permanent record of them after we enter them into the BAT,” said the 2002 Sonoma High School graduate. “We’re also going to use the BAT to make their badges.” According to Kilmer, after a sizeable amount of Iraqi men are screened and qualified to be police officers – approximately 500 – the next step is for 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, to provide them with training and logistical support. The Iraq Ministry of Interior pays the officers’ salaries, he said. “We’re going to issue them uniforms, badges and weapons. A uniformed force of Iraqi officers will be employed to police the city in the not so distant future.”