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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Iraqi Police continue to improve safety in Baghdad neighborhood

17 April 2007
Story by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Elisandro Diaz
Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq Public Affairs


BAGHDAD — Iraqi Police continue to improve security in the Al-Karkh district here Friday.

“Our mission is to investigate crimes and respond to emergencies,” said Iraqi Police Capt. Majid, deputy commander of the Juaifer Police Station, which is responsible for the Salhiya neighborhood.

Majid had pointed out that the Salhiya neighborhood is an area composed of Shia and Sunni residents, which borders the Tigris River and contains Haifa Street and attributes the change in the area’s crime patterns, over the last few months, to several factors beginning with increased patrols.

“Our police conduct many patrols in cars and on foot throughout the neighborhood,” he said. “We have several vehicle checkpoints and a patrol in the market.”

The neighborhood is safer because of improved law enforcement measures. Also, the Iraqi Police in the area routinely works with the Iraqi Army.

“The Iraqi Army will provide escort [security] for our police and work side-by-side at checkpoints,” said Majid. “We used to have up to three to four murders a day, but since Fardh Al-Qanoon started, murder and attacks have decreased tremendously.”

While security and crime investigation remain positive factors, being community leaders and building relationships with local residents during patrols has also helped the Iraqi Police gain a foothold in the neighborhood.

“Children and adults come out to greet the police and seem happy they are in their neighborhoods,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elizabeth Zerwick, a Police Transition Team advisor who is helping the Juafer Police Station. “The people will flag down the police when they drive through their areas.”

However much the Iraqi police station has improved, they still face challenges.

Many Iraqi policemen have left the station because they fear for their families lives while others have simply been fired, said Majid. However, most of the 115 policemen who make up the force have several years experience in the field and are making a difference in the neighborhood.

In spite of challenges, Majid remains hopeful for the police station and envisioned new vehicles, more weapons and more manpower to build his workforce to continue making the Salhiya neighborhood safe.

“This police station helps Iraq because it helps make it safe for people to live here,” said Majid.

Photo: Two Iraqi policemen, from the Juaifer Police Station, staff a checkpoint in Baghdad’s Salhiya neighborhood. Photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Elisandro Diaz, Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq Public Affairs.

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