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AL QA?IM DISTRICT HEADQUARTERS POLICE STATION, AL QA?IM, Iraq ? An Iraqi policeman, or IP, with the Al Qa?im district police proudly holds his pistol while the Iraqi flag hangs in the background. The police here have grown up with the townspeople thus creating a close bond with one another.

Photo by Eric C. Schwartz

Police, neighborhood join forces to keep Al Qa’im’s streets safe

29 Aug 2007 | Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz

The success of Operations Mawtini and Combined Justice is equally weighed between the leadership of Al Qa’im’s police force, the Iraqi Army and the Marines. Behind the scenes, Iraqi Police leadership is working directly with Marines to secure the town of Karabalah from insurgency.

“Al Qai’m District’s community policing is the best in all of Al Anbar,” said Staff Sgt. Steven Poelns, the Al Qa’im district security chief with the Police Transition Team, attached to Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2.

The IPs normally patrol the area in vehicles, but this census mission requires a door-to-door-approach.

“The IPs don’t have platoons on standby like the Iraqi Army, so they have to switch their SWAT team out for this door-to-door census patrol,” said Capt. Steven Boada, a 2002 Central Connecticut State University graduate and the Al Qa’im district PTT officer-in-charge here.

The district headquarters is an old police station. Years ago, its courtyard walls were painted bright blue; but just as the past fades away, so has the wall’s coloring. The wall’s old coloring doesn’t bother the men who work at the station because they have a bright future ahead of them.

“The terrorists have hurt the people in Al Qa’im for a long time,” said Capt. Hatam, the force protection officer with DHQ and a 17-year veteran with the Iraqi police force. “Now the area is about ninety-percent safe.”

The operation is focusing on that ten percent where terrorists feel they can find a safe-haven from coalition forces. But as Marines and IPs go door-to-door, the insurgency will be pushed into the desert.

“The police have cleared houses and had gunfights in the past,” said Sgt. Dannyray Hernandez, an IP administrator and Orlando, Fl. native with PTT.

The insurgents now aren’t putting up much of a fight in the town because of the strong Marine and IP presence and the townspeople love their help.

“The town supports them because they feel protected,” Hernandez said.

Iraq’s shaky economy affects the IPs’ paychecks; there are times when money is scarce.

“Husaybah and Karabalah’s street vendors usually give the IPs food for their families on a loan until they can pay it back,” Hernandez said.

The police have a close relationship with the townspeople and this close bond keeps the town safe and the IPs fed.

The good people of the Al Qa’im district support its police force and the team effort works to stabilize the area. There has been much progress shown here by the upstanding citizens and police in the area. Its proof the transition process is working.