Monday, February 02, 2004

The administration still states that we will hand over control to the Iraqi's by June. Got to do something about this then - if its true. I've seen claims that the media isn't reporting the rebuilding of schools sufficiently, but none that they're underreporting the professionalism of the new police force. It's not impossible.

Iraqi police a law unto themselves
By David Enders

BAGHDAD - At night, the police presence is most evident. On the city's central streets, they make high-speed patrols, at times in groups that make the task appear more like a joyride. There are no other cars to be seen and there's virtually no one on the streets, save the employees of Baghdad's single 24-hour shop and the handful of restaurants that stay open late, mostly to serve the cops.

The police, however, do not receive credit for the apparent drop in crime. "It's because no one stays out," said Hassan Mahdi, the owner of the 24-hour shop. "The police are no good."

But just because the streets are filled with police does not necessarily mean they're safe. A journalist walking back to his hotel at around 3am on a recent morning made the mistaken assumption that it would be fine because only police were out. He was stopped and asked for his identity card three times during the 10-minute stroll. The third group of police also took US$100 from his wallet, after he showed an American passport.

Accusations of police corruption are rampant across the country. Iraqis complain that police set up checkpoints for the sole purpose of shakedowns, threatening arrest unless a bribe is paid. In this city of more than 5 million, the police were the first security body to be reinstated after the invasion. The situation is being likened to the police force before the invasion, which was known for its petty corruption. "No one ever received traffic tickets before the war," said Ahmad Ayad, who lives in Baghdad. "We just paid the officer."

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