AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq --
Hammurabi, the sixth king of Babylon who extended his kingdom to include Mesopotamia and became the first king of the Empire of Babylon, is most notably remembered for his contribution to civilization and modern criminal justice.
Hammurabi’s laws, known as the Hammurabi Code, were written on stone tablets and included specific punishments for each crime. The code is also famous for being one of the first cases of ‘presumption of innocence,’ which calls for evidence to be presented to prove guilt. It is more commonly referred to as ‘innocent until proven guilty.’
Hammurabi’s dedication to fairness and justice lives on today in the form of the Hammurabi Training Center here, where Iraqi police from Al Anbar Province come to take courses on basic policing skills to improve their service to their local community and Iraq as a whole.
The training center, operated under Regimental Combat Team 2, recently graduated 24 students from the first Basic Criminal Investigation Course. The course is aimed at improving Iraqi police officer’s skills at criminal investigation as well as teaching them how to serve their community more effectively.
“The problem in the past was just standing up a police force,” explained Mario J. DeLucia, an international police advisor with 20 years of service as a former New York City police officer. “Now, we are fine tuning their training and developing leadership and specialized skill sets.”
The investigators course is the training center’s fifth class; previous classes include logistics, first line supervision and basic police administration.
“These courses are very helpful to the Iraqi Police because we are acquiring technical and professional knowledge on a much broader skill set than we had before,” said police Maj. ‘Uday Muhammad ‘Uthman Al-Kabaysi, an investigative officer from Kubaysah, Iraq, and the course’s chief instructor. “Policing has two parts, technical on-scene skills, as well as paperwork and evidence processes we need to master, so we can submit them to a judge and win trials. This is a profound issue that is just starting to be addressed.”
Officer Al-Kabaysi, who has a master’s degree in international law as well as a bachelor’s in security, said he hopes more advanced classes will be offered to the police, so they can continue to refine their abilities.
The investigators course, which was instructed by Iraqi police officers, included five days of classes on a wide array of subjects such as: burglary, robbery, theft, sexual offenses, arson, interrogation, drugs, court trials and convictions, fingerprint evidence, ballistic (gun) evidence, shoe and tire print evidence, crime scene photography, physical evidence, trace evidence (such as hair and fiber), physiological evidence (such as blood and saliva), and death investigation.
The instructors also taught classes on investigative tools such as photograph lineups, and artist sketches. Two of the favorite classes included democratic policing and ethics, both of which focus on teaching officers they are committed to serving the public, and they have moral responsibilities to the community.
“We try to stress ethics and human rights,” said Gordon L. Williams, an international police advisor with 26 years of experience in the New Jersey Police Department. “We want the community to trust them, which is essential to success. Once they gain that support, they will be able to build solid cases and be more proficient in the justice system.”
The officers said they definitely gained a new respect for the position they hold within their local communities.
“Ultimately, the Iraqi citizens will benefit from the change you see in these officers,” explained police Maj. Marwan Ismael Hwaysh, a police officer from Kubaysah, Iraq, and a course instructor.
The students are encouraged to share phone numbers and email addresses and to stay in close contact after the course is over, so they can exchange criminal information and work together to capture fugitives.
“In a previous class, we were talking about high valued individuals, real hardcore criminals, and one of the students said there was a man from Rutbah, his town, who everyone was looking for,” said DeLucia, a Sevierville, Tenn., native. “A few weeks after the course ended, an officer from Kubaysah who was in the same class saw the man in his city and called the officer from the other town to make sure he still wanted the individual. Then they arrested him and sent him to the other town for trial. That’s the type of success and progress we want in the police force.”
The class, which represented six police districts and 25 police stations, ended with a final exercise which involved a fake crime scene, role players, and fake evidence. The students used what they learned throughout the week to process the evidence and do what they would normally do in an investigation.
After the evaluation, and a 100-question test, the police officers who passed the course were awarded certificates validating their investigative abilities. The graduates were given a disk of the course material and encouraged to teach others in their station when they returned to duty.
“This shouldn’t be just a feather in their hat,” said DeLucia. “This should be a feather in the hat of every officer at their station. The department and the officers can’t function without the support of the government and the people under it, but it’s a brotherhood and if they all work together they can go far and accomplish anything they want in service to their community. That’s a police officers job.”