Creating a citizen-friendly, professional police force – that is the goal of the programme funded by the Federal Foreign Office to support police capacity-building in the Palestinian territories. A “police station” simulation facility has been constructed in Jericho with German assistance for the purpose of training police officers. The first 13 Palestinian policemen trained at the new facility have now received their certificates.
The training course in the mock police station in Jericho was led by Palestinian instructors, who were themselves trained as instructors by German experts in the spring of 2012. Since gaining their new qualifications, the Palestinian instructors have prepared more than 100 police officers for their jobs. They are to be deployed in the four new police stations ceremonially presented to the Interior Minister of the Palestinian Authority by Germany’s representative in the Palestinian territories, Barbara Wolf, who heads the German Representative Office in Ramallah.
The officers selected to be in charge of the new police stations will also attend a two-week course in Jericho on management issues run by police officers from Brandenburg, Germany. Germany has thus adopted a holistic approach to its police training efforts in Jericho in order to prepare Palestinian instructors, policemen and managerial staff for their respective functions in the Palestinian territories.
In addition, the best qualified Palestinian police officers are currently completing a two-year course of studies at a college of public administration in Germany.
Mock police station in Jericho
The new mock police station at the Jericho Police Training School looks modern and bright. It is the forerunner of up to 55 identical police stations that are to be built in the Palestinian territories with international support. Germany is leading the way on this project. Four police stations have been built in Jenin Governorate with German funding and have already been handed over to the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior. Another eight stations – to be paid for through an EU co financing project – are currently being planned.
Better equipment and training for the Palestinian police
Until recently, the Palestinian police force was very poorly equipped. “Worst of all, we didn’t have enough vehicles and computers – and sometimes there weren’t even enough shoes to go with the uniforms,” Palestinian policemen have told their German counterparts. Effective police work was thus out of the question. The German Government is now providing practical assistance. It has for example provided new radio equipment and an automated fingerprint identification system.
At the same time, steps are being taken to improve the training received by members of the Palestinian police force. For example, five police officers from Brandenburg, Germany ran two courses at the Jericho Police Training School which targeted future Palestinian police instructors, teaching them about various practical issues, including emergency assistance, processing reports, identity checks and securing evidence at crime scenes.
A citizen-friendly police force
Making sure that the police force is viewed favourably by the population is a key aim. The people should not view the police as fear-inspiring authority figures; they should trust and cooperate with each other. Even the architecture of the new police buildings is designed to underscore this citizen-friendly approach.
Despite the many structural difficulties, progress is tangible. The German police advisor in Ramallah told us that he had met motivated police officers with a will to learn, both on training courses and at work on the streets, who were helping to improve the image of the Palestinian police. Providing better equipment and standardizing training will make it possible for a new generation of policemen and women to learn their job in a way that will contribute to the development of their country. Out on the streets, it is already obvious that policemen and women are respected by the people and viewed as helpful citizens in uniform.