Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Testimony :: J. Michael Stiers
Former Deputy Commissioner - UN International Police Task Force in Bosnia


Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. It is my pleasure to be before you this morning to address the issues of the International Civilian Police and their missions.

I was asked to speak on two topics. First, the effectiveness of Police Monitoring and the ability of the international community to provide meaningful training to the local police officers in the mission country. Second, the question of, how well donor countries provided personnel to the International Police Task Force (IPTF), and the ability levels of those police officers provided.

After giving this request much thought, I believe the real questions being asked here are; Is Police Monitoring the best way to deal with post-conflict police and crime related issues and is there a better way for the International Community to deal with these concerns. The short answers are No, Police Monitoring is not the best way to deal with police and crime related issues and certainly there must be a more efficient and effective way for the International Community to address these areas of concern.

Let me say first of all, that there is a place and time for Police Monitoring in a mission, however, it comes only after a great deal of work has already taken place with the local police forces. After the war in Bosnia, we inherited 40,000 police officers who were mostly military officers and political favorites. It took nearly 4 years to vet this force to the 18,000+ they have today. Then came the task of converting them from the old socialistic style of policing to a more modern democratic style, which is still ongoing today. The training in new investigative techniques and modern operational tactics must be addressed. The development of police academies for new police recruits must take place. Specialties type training must be developed. The list goes on and on. Only after you have a "working" police force do you have something or someone to monitor. In Kosovo, and I believe in East Timor, they are having to build the local police forces from the ground up.

The first task for the IPTF or other mission's International Police forces should be to reestablish "law and order." Whether that is by using the existing police force or the International Police Force, that must be the first goal. Second, we must create a local police force which is capable of maintaining that law and order using the new modern-world style of policing. They must be able to stand on their own two feet after the Internationals pull out. I'm sure you are able to see, there is much for the International Police officers to accomplish before we are able to truly focus on Police Monitoring. All of these tasks are currently being tackled by these same police officers. They are asked to first teach, train, evaluate, mentor and then finally, monitor. Additionally, in Kosovo and East Timor, they are charged with all the official policing duties. A severe challenge at best.

Yes, the International Community certainly possesses the capability to provide all the necessary training to the local police forces. How we go about it is another question. I do not believe there is a "one fits all" type of training that will cover all the variety of training needs in the various missions. Yes, the bulk of the training can and should be done within the mission country. However, there are certain types of training that may be more efficiently undertaken by having the appropriate group of local police receive their training in another country. The Bosnian State Border Service is a good example of this. Usually, this will involve "specialty types" of training. Having the ability to tap international resources for these trainings can prove very beneficial to the mission country.

Now, the question of whether or not the International Community, including the United States, is doing its best in providing quality police officers to these missions. I can only speak on what I observed in the Bosnia Mission. As a former Deputy Commissioner, I can honestly say that every donor country sent us some excellent police officers. However, I must admit that the percentage of good police officers provided by a donor country varied widely from country to country. During my 14 months in mission there were times when as many as 10-15 percent of the International Officers sent to the mission didn't meet the minimum requirements set out by the United Nations. Those requirements are very basic in nature.

1) You must be, or have been, a qualified police officer with at least 5 years of experience.
2) You must be able to speak, read and write English at a workable level, and
3) You must be able to drive a stick shift 4-wheel drive vehicle.

At the beginning of my mission time, we were able to repatriate those who failed to measure up without too much difficulty. However, as the Kosovo and East Timor Missions grew, repatriation became almost impossible. Therefore, we were challenged to find something to do with these "unqualified officers." If the screening process were improved worldwide, prior to sending a police officer to a mission, I believe, we could accomplish much more with much less in a much faster timeframe.

In closing, I do not pretend to understand the complexity of the issues which face the United Nations and its contributing countries. However, I do know, we must do a better job in providing "qualified" police officers to these missions and I do hope that America remains an active partner in this cause.

Thank You