Forces: The Most Corrupt Cops In The World


June 15, 2007: The Iraqi police have, like police forces throughout the Middle East, been cursed with pervasive corruption. Even when Saddam ran the country, the national police were considered a bunch of corrupt buffoons. To control the country, Saddam created several security services, including, by 2003, a large force of street thugs, who were unleashed on any neighborhood or town that was showing signs of unrest or disloyalty. That approach is no longer acceptable in Iraq, and efforts to create a modern, efficient police force have proved difficult.

Currently there are 140,000 cops in the Iraqi Police Service. This is the force that takes care of regular police work. That includes public safety, traffic control, solving crimes and so on. Then there is the more elite Iraqi National Police, which provide SWAT and riot control police who operate all over the country. These are the police most deliberately involved in counter-terrorism work. Finally, there are the 28,000 border police, who guard border crossings, and dozens of forts along the border, from which they patrol the frontier, and search for smugglers, terrorists or anyone else crossing illegally.

While there are thousands of good, effective, and reasonably honest cops in Iraq, the majority are either corrupt, or under the control (voluntarily, or via terror) of tribal, religious or political organizations. The basic problem is that Iraqi police have never gotten into the concept of "protect and serve" (the public.) As much as one may criticize the police in the West, the Iraqi police are far, far worse than the most vile police force you will find in Europe or North America. Iraqis immigrating to the United States are shocked at how efficient and incorruptible American police are, especially when compared to the police back in the old country.

While a lot of Iraqi politicians pay lip service to the idea of an honest and efficient police force, they know that Western style cops would be inconvenient for Iraqi style government officials, and big shots in general. The Iraqi leaders do allow American, and other Western nations, to keep training Iraqi cops, and police commanders. Some Arab nations, like Jordan, which have efficient and much less corrupt police, have also been helping out with training. But many of these instructors leave, after a year of so in Iraq, uncertain if Iraq will have a modern police force any time soon. It will take a massive change in public attitudes and opinions before honest and efficient cops are accepted and tolerated. Right now, it's dangerous for an Iraqi cop to be honest and efficient.

Iraqi leaders know better than to admit that there is a serious cultural problem here. Instead, Iraqi officials and politicians just say they are working at producing an effective police force, when, in fact, they are doing much the opposite. Police corruption is a problem that has to be talked about openly a lot more, before there is any hope of achieving a solution.




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