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The Ballot and the Badge: Democratic Policing

Article  in  Journal of Democracy · April 2010

DOI: 10.1353/jod.0.0168


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2 authors:

Michael Wiatrowski Jack Goldstone

Texas Appleseed George Mason University


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the ballot and the badge:
democratic policing
Michael D. Wiatrowski and Jack A. Goldstone

Michael D. Wiatrowski was formerly associate professor of criminal

justice at Florida Atlantic University and chair of the Criminal Justice
Department at Utica College of Syracuse University. As a lieutenant-
colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, he served on police-training mis-
sions in Bosnia and Haiti. Jack A. Goldstone is Virginia E. and John
T. Hazel Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University. He
chaired the National Academy of Sciences study Improving Democracy
Assistance (2008).

The training of police forces has become a common aspect of re-

construction and democracy-assistance efforts in postconflict and
emerging democratic societies. In all such cases, police training that
is based on a core model of democratic policing is absolutely crucial.
Yet in practice, that model rarely receives the attention it deserves,
and instead is often swamped by short-range concerns with boosting
the numbers and tactical skills of police. As recent experiences in Iraq
and Afghanistan have shown, police-training programs that fail to fo-
cus on institutionalizing democratic policing as their central goal do
more to undermine than to promote progress toward stable democratic
The role of the police in a healthy democracy is radically different
from their role in authoritarian societies. In autocratic regimes, the po-
lice serve mainly to protect not the people, but the regime. The police
are therefore typically politicized, with appointments being part of the
patronage system that rewards regime loyalists. Police officers spend a
great deal of time spying on the populace to unmask political opposi-
tion; crime against citizens is less of a concern. Abuse and corruption
are usually rife, because police are not held accountable for their ac-
tions. Rather, political leaders tolerate abuses by the police in return for
police loyalty to the regime.
By contrast, in democratic societies the primary mission of the po-

Journal of Democracy Volume 21, Number 2 April 2010

© 2010 National Endowment for Democracy and The Johns Hopkins University Press
80 Journal of Democracy

lice is to protect citizens against crime and disorder, including illegal

or corrupt behavior by officials. In democracies, police have carefully
circumscribed roles that require close and positive relations with ordi-
nary citizens. The use of arms and pursuit of criminals are rare and take
up only a tiny fraction of police time. Instead, police officers spend
the vast bulk of their time building relationships with the community
through patrols, community-enhancing activities, and listening to citi-
zens. The goal of democratic policing is to build a web of relationships
between the community and the police that helps to control crime by
making police aware of the persons and activities in the communities
that they are assigned to protect and by inclining citizens to trust and
cooperate with police. This also achieves the primary goal of making
citizens feel secure in their daily activities, thereby fostering a climate
that encourages increased legitimate business activity, investment, and
planning for the future.1
When a new regime emerges after an armed conflict, or when democ-
racy replaces authoritarianism, it is vital that the training, mindset, and
methods of police undergo fundamental change. If people are to learn
to trust the new regime, their interactions with government agents—and
few such agents are more active, numerous, or potentially intimidating
than police officers—must be positive. Police who are corrupt, who treat
citizens with disregard or hostility, or who focus on backing particular
politicians or parties rather than fighting crime will steadily undermine
support for the new regime. Without successful training in democratic
values and democratic modes of policing, helping the local police to
be more technically efficient may simply make them better at quash-
ing unwanted opposition and disrupting—rather than protecting—civil
Democratic policing traces its roots to the creation of the first modern
police force in 1829 under British home secretary Sir Robert Peel. The
basic mission of the London Metropolitan Police, Peel maintained, was
to prevent crime and disorder by winning the cooperation and respect of
the public rather than by the use of physical force. “The test of police
efficiency,” as one scholarly account summarizes Peel’s view, “is the
absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police ac-
tion in dealing with it.”2 Peel insisted that the unrestrained use of force
would be counterproductive, and set as a standard the minimal use of
force consistent with obtaining compliance to lawful orders. Peel valued
impartiality and justice. He demanded that his police (British officers
are still known as “bobbies” after Peel) be incorruptible and fair to all,
and asserted that officers would never win public trust and cooperation
without being fully accountable for their actions. He also insisted that
the police should stick to deterring and catching criminals, and never
stray into the areas of judgment and punishment that must remain the
sole province of courts acting under law. Failure to respect this differ-
Michael D. Wiatrowski and Jack A. Goldstone 81

ence of roles results in the extralegal punishments and executions that

characterize the police systems of tyrannies.
Democratic policing consists of applying Peel’s seminal ideas to
contemporary police practices and codes of conduct. It involves police
training and reform based on the belief that in a democratic society the
police must be not only professionally competent but also: 1) account-
able to the people for the manner in which they exercise their authority;
2) reliant on popular support as they carry out their duties; 3) transparent
in their practices and not given to operating as a state within a state; and
4) welcomed as legitimate agents of the duly constituted civil authori-
ties. It means instilling in the police an ethic of serving the community
and consulting the public. The key is that police officers at every level
must see themselves as serving the whole public, and not merely the
state and its rulers.3

Getting the Training Right

Police training has become a widespread element of international-
donor assistance. The United Nations operates a force of 11,000 uni-
formed police, currently serving in eighteen different field missions.
Originally the UN Police were deployed mainly to provide interim law
enforcement in postconflict situations where domestic police capacity
was lacking. Yet their mission has shifted and grown with repeated
engagements, as it came to be recognized that training domestic police
is critical if order is to be kept once UN forces begin to withdraw.
In 2000, the Panel on United Nations Policing and Peace Operations
stated that the UN Police should “focus primarily on the reform and
restructuring of local police forces in addition to traditional advisory,
training and monitoring tasks.”4
The UN Police operate mainly as part of peacekeeping missions in
postconflict societies, but the UN Development Programme (UNDP)
and other UN agencies also operate police-training programs in fragile
societies and emerging democracies. These include the Police Reform
Programme in Bangladesh (jointly supported by the UNDP, Britain’s
Department for International Development, and the European Union),
the Police Reform Mission to Jamaica, and the UN Mission in Guate-
mala, among others.
In addition, the United States and its partners from Europe and Japan
have been extensively involved in police training in Iraq and Afghani-
stan, as well as in cooperative training of police forces for joint coun-
terterror and antinarcotics missions in numerous developing countries.
As part of the latter effort, the U.S. State Department operates Interna-
tional Law Enforcement Academies in Botswana, El Salvador, Hungary,
and Thailand, and also enrolls foreign police officers in its International
Law Enforcement Academy in New Mexico.
82 Journal of Democracy

Amid all this activity, however, democratic policing has received

short shrift. Far from being at the heart of international police-training
programs, the principles of democratic policing appear mainly as af-
terthoughts. A recent RAND Corporation handbook on nation-building
features a 26-page chapter on “The Police” dealing with training, fi-
nancing, sizing, surveillance, equipment, and costs.5 In that chapter,
the words “democratic” or “democracy” appear but twice. The topic
of training aimed at changing police-force culture in ways that support
democracy receives only six lines at the end of one paragraph on page
62. In the curriculum of the U.S.-run International Law Enforcement
Academies, there is not a single course offered on the role of the police
in a democratic society.6 A recent analysis of UN police-training prac-
tices in ten countries argued that democratic policing “did not receive
adequate attention,”7 as human-rights training was often ghettoized and
the full range of support needed to underpin a radical change in police
culture and practices was often lacking.
This neglect does not stem from a lack of information—the interna-
tional assistance community has ready access to excellent texts detailing
the role of democratic policing.8 The problem lies, rather, in a set of fac-
tors that have led key officials involved in stabilization, reconstruction,
and democracy-assistance programs to turn away from making demo-
cratic policing one of their chief priorities.
The five main obstacles to implementing democratic policing in post-
conflict or emerging democracies are: 1) a focus on quickly raising the
numbers of police officers to meet numerical targets or to replace old re-
gime forces; 2) the lack of an institutionalized international police force
that is able to follow and teach the principles of democracy-friendly
policing; 3) efforts to harness police to assist the military as part of an
overall security plan that ignores the key division of labor among secu-
rity forces in democratic societies; 4) bulk deployment of individuals
from the prior regime’s security forces in the new or reformed police of
the new regime, and 5) widespread police corruption.
Where a state is fragile or has failed, and a current or recent conflict
has left society wide open to crime or ongoing rebel activity, there is typi-
cally pressure to put police back onto the streets quickly, and in numbers
considered high enough to combat disorder. The target number—based
on ratios drawn from the experiences of developed countries—is usually
about 2,000 to 3,000 police officers per million inhabitants.9
Unless the new officers are properly trained, however, deploying
them in large numbers can backfire. Ordinary police have two primary
missions: protecting citizens from crime and corruption, and helping
to build communities that trust and support the government and its of-
ficials. These missions should be mutually reinforcing. Protecting citi-
zens and responding to their concerns strengthens communities and
builds their trust and support for the regime; conversely, as that trust
Michael D. Wiatrowski and Jack A. Goldstone 83

grows, the police can gain information and access that greatly help them
in their crime-fighting task.

“One Riot, One Ranger”

When it comes to building citizen support and battling crime, a
smaller force that is highly professional and committed to serving the
public will prove more effective than a larger but unruly and ill-trained
one. In the nineteenth-century American West, for instance, even small
numbers of U.S. marshals or Texas Rangers could bring law to large
swaths of the frontier by galvanizing local communities in support of
the authorities and against criminal behavior—the truth behind the fa-
mous quip about the appearance of a single Texas Ranger being enough
to quell an outbreak of mob unrest. Police who have received scanty or
poor training are, by contrast, likely to be inept at keeping the peace
and fighting crime, unhelpful in meeting community needs, and prone
to corruption. Once unleashed on the public, such officers will probably
do more to undermine than to bolster the new government. If they are
present in quantity, their legitimacy-sapping influence will make itself
felt that much more quickly.
One popular approach to police-rebuilding missions is a “train the
trainers” method. According to this model, a modest number of expe-
rienced international police officers prepare indigenous police trainers
to professionalize and remold their local comrades. Although this ap-
proach may succeed at spreading knowledge of the technical skills and
techniques of modern police work, it is less likely to impart the culture
and principles of democratic policing. Even if the international train-
ers are imbued with a democratic-policing ethic, it is no easy thing to
induce indigenous police—especially if they have been long schooled
in authoritarian policing—to make a habit of practicing and preaching
democratic policing principles to their own forces. Keeping interna-
tional police in theater for months or even years to mentor the transfor-
mation of police culture is often critical to success. Even among coun-
tries recently admitted to the EU, which made security-sector reform a
necessary condition for admission, the task of reforming authoritarian
police forces has suffered from haste and poor follow-through.10
It is a fallacy to believe that simply swelling police ranks is enough
to cut crime. Research from developed societies shows that sheer
numbers of police do not determine the amount of crime that occurs.
Criminal activity depends on such factors as whether people have jobs,
whether communities are integrated and trusting or disrupted, and
whether police are well-informed and visible or have little connection
to or communication with the communities in which they operate.11
These factors are not responsive to increases in raw police numbers.
A large force filled with officers who seldom leave their barracks or
84 Journal of Democracy

station houses, lack good intelligence, and act only after crimes have
been committed is unlikely to make much of a dent in crime and cor-
ruption. What is needed are police with citizen support, communi-
ties where trust in public institutions and
one’s neighbors is more or less the norm,
Counting the num- and wider conditions (including courts to
ber of police trained, make the rule of law stick, as well as jobs
and investment) that go beyond the sphere
however briefly or
of police work.
poorly, as an indi-
The desire to meet numerical targets, or
cator of progress in simply the belief that more police are bet-
state-building is like ter or that any police are better than none,
using body counts often leads to a narrow focus on training
as an indicator of as many officers as possible in the shortest
progress in counter- amount of time. A normal course of police
insurgency. training should take from six months to a
year of academy preparation followed by
four to six months of on-the-job training
under expert supervision. It should include core training in the prin-
ciples and practices of policing in a democratic society, including an
emphasis on serving the people and combating government corruption
as well as “how-to” skills in weapons use, crowd control, crime investi-
gation, security provision for persons and places, and the arrest and de-
tention of suspects. Training for still harder tasks, such as surveillance
and undercover work to fight organized crime and narcotics trafficking,
or dealing with heavily armed gangs or bomb threats, would require yet
further instruction and field training.
Yet as James Dobbins notes, “pressures for rapid deployment [of po-
lice] sometimes lead to more accelerated schedules. In Iraq the most ex-
tended basic course of instruction was eight weeks . . . the resulting stan-
dards of performance were unacceptably low.”12 Recurring appraisals
of police training in Iraq and Afghanistan find the same problem. Thus,
the “Interagency Assessment of Iraq Police Training” by the inspectors
general of the U.S. State and Defense departments noted that the “em-
phasis on numbers overshadows the attention that should be given to the
qualitative performance of those trained.”13
The broader issues of what police training is for and how it relates
to other elements of postconflict reconstruction and democratic val-
ues are rarely discussed. While individual police recruits are told to
respect human rights, this is not the same as developing democratic
policing as an institutional commitment or making the entire force
aware of the distinctive character and goals of policing in a democrat-
ic society. In many ways, counting the number of police trained (how-
ever briefly or poorly) as an indicator of progress in state-building is
like using body counts as an indicator of progress in counterinsur-
Michael D. Wiatrowski and Jack A. Goldstone 85

gency; neither metric addresses the decisive goal of winning support

for the government.
The key to building stability and reducing crime and corruption in
transitional and postconflict conditions is to have police who can “hold”
cleared areas by following the principles of democratic policing. If an
adequate native force is not available to do this, then international forces
must bridge the gap while the locals undergo proper preparation. The
EU and the UN have fielded such stopgap forces, as has the United
States. These deployments have typically been ad hoc affairs. Given
the scarcity of international police, it remains distressingly common to
see desperate officials rushing badly trained indigenous officers into the
streets for want of anything better. Unlike national military forces or
NATO commands, which can provide existing units that have trained
together, most international police missions are grab bags of individu-
als and groups seconded by various national and local police forces.
Between the recognition of a need and the arrival of an international
force, many months can elapse. Because trainers are easier to mobilize
than operational forces, it is often irresistible to opt for the “just train the
locals” solution rather than to deploy more professional and experienced
international police forces.
The goal of stabilizing emerging and postconflict democracies would
often be best served by first deploying a core international police force to
contain crime and corruption with exemplary democratic-policing meth-
ods, and only then phasing in properly trained locals as they become avail-
able. This solution would be readier to hand if NATO, the EU, the UN,
and the United States would spend the money to maintain a stand-by force
of several thousand police officers who had trained together and who ex-
celled not only at democratic policing, but also at working with transla-
tors, operating in fragile-state and postconflict situations, and cooperating
with military and specialized forces. That nothing like this exists today
only underscores the low priority assigned to democratic policing in the
hierarchy of stabilization and reconstruction operations.
Brian Nichiporuk has argued that rather than believing that we can
train local police quickly enough or rely on military forces to carry out
police functions in the interim, it would be better to have several police
brigades, trained specifically for international missions, ready to send
units to any locale that has been cleared of heavily armed insurgents.14 A
report by the U.S. Institute of Peace notes that “the U.S. has repeatedly
needed highly capable police forces [for international deployment] but
has lacked the capacity.” The report goes on to recommend the creation of
such a force.15 Democratic policing forms a crucial part of just about every
reconstruction and stabilization mission, but neither the United States nor
the international community has so far forged the right tool for the job.
The new European Gendarmerie Force (EGF), though designed for
rapid intervention to provide security where indigenous police are lack-
86 Journal of Democracy

ing, is still too militarized to tackle the full range of police activities.
Moreover, it is designed to leap into crises rather than to provide the
long-term local policing and training that is required for the creation of
democratic police forces in previously authoritarian societies.
The United Nations has increasingly utilized its UN Police not only as
observers and monitors but also as active trainers and mentors, working
to build indigenous police forces in Bosnia, Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone,
and Timor-Leste. Nonetheless, the UN has encountered two main dif-
ficulties in undertaking extended training and capacity-building police
missions: obtaining sufficiently qualified police officers for those ef-
forts, and managing communications among the individuals drawn from
the more than one-hundred nations that staff the UN Police.16
The UN has started to develop formed police units (FPUs) to act in
especially disorderly environments. Each FPU consists of 125 police
officers who have been recruited from a single country, have trained
together, and are slightly more heavily armed than regular police. This
is a good start that might well form the nucleus of an expanded inter-
national police-building and training capacity. Some of the FPUs, how-
ever, come from nondemocracies such as China, where the regime has a
less than exemplary regard for human rights and police are trained to act
as the guardians of an authoritarian political system.17 Ironically, one of
the largest contributors to the UN Police is Bangladesh, which is itself
currently hosting a UN mission sent to reform its police. In fact, a re-
cent International Crisis Group (ICG) report, citing human-rights abuses
and corruption, calls the Bangladeshi police “a source of instability and
fear [in their own country] rather than a key component of a democratic
society.”18 Police from countries that have yet to embrace democratic
policing at home cannot be expected to lead the training of new police
forces for emerging democracies.
It makes sense to create an international police force with a clear mis-
sion to furnish full-range policing and training in accord with democratic
principles rather than to have existing agencies support developmental
tasks that they are neither trained nor equipped to accomplish. Whether
under the auspices of the UN, the EU, NATO, or other organizations,
what is needed is an established, professional international force that
can handle the full range of police operations and training over extended
periods and in diverse countries. At the core of this force’s mission must
be the goal of establishing local police practices that comport with and
support democracy.

Different Forces for Different Threats

In authoritarian regimes, all security forces have an overriding mis-
sion of protecting the regime from its opponents. In democratic regimes,
by contrast, a variety of different forces work to provide various as-
Michael D. Wiatrowski and Jack A. Goldstone 87

pects of security. This is in keeping with functional efficiency as well

as democracy’s method of diffusing power and setting up checks and
balances to guard citizens against abuse at the hands of overweening au-
thorities. The division of labor that this creates among different types of
security forces is both a hallmark of mature democracy and a promoter
of police effectiveness.
The military is the prime agency for dealing with heavily armed
threats, whether foreign invaders or internal rebels within. Soldiers de-
ploy from bases and operate mainly to target and eliminate those threats.
The police, by contrast, battle local crime and corruption, working within
communities and building trust between the government and the people
while enforcing the rule of law. In a mature democracy, average citizens
are unlikely to have much if any day-to-day contact with military units,
whereas they may see and deal with the police more often than any other
government officials.
Certain specialized security tasks require a mix of police and military
skills: dealing with organized crime, including drug traffickers and other
heavily armed gangs; border control; antiterrorism; and responding to
major natural disasters or massive disturbances. These tasks are usually
entrusted to specialized units separate from the ordinary police, often with
more advanced equipment and training: border-security forces; gendar-
merie or “civil guard” forces; and elite agencies or units such as Britain’s
Security Service (MI5), the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, and
“special weapons and tactics” (SWAT) teams. These specialized forces
are generally more heavily armed than regular police and interact far less
with the public. They are also far smaller, more selective, and under strict-
er control than regular police forces. In democracies, it is vital that these
specialized forces not be used to supplant or interfere with the normal
police mission of building community relations and protecting citizens.
All too often, the rush to improve public safety in postconflict condi-
tions leads to a disregard for the distinctions among these various secu-
rity roles. Local police may end up undergoing paramilitary training and
being used to attack terrorists, drug lords, and rebels. This use of police
officers as second-tier soldiers works against every principle of demo-
cratic policing. The people will never trust police who routinely wield
machine guns and act like an army.
Moreover, police who are hurled into pitched fights against highly or-
ganized and heavily armed foes will often find themselves overmatched
and suffering heavy losses. The predictable result is a demoralized force
whose members focus on protecting and enriching themselves, often via
corruption and the abuse of civilians. It is thus vital that training pro-
grams respect the distinct roles of ordinary police, specialized paramili-
tary forces, and the regular military, and emphasize the everyday tasks
of democratic policing. Trying to turn beat cops into soldiers or com-
mandos usually buys a country little more than police who will fail at
88 Journal of Democracy

their core duties and drag democratic state-building efforts down along
with them.
Efforts to put big numbers of officers on patrol quickly and to fore-
stall the old regime’s “guys with guns” (to borrow Michael McFaul’s
colorful phrase) from becoming dangerously jobless often result in prior
security forces being taken almost whole-
sale into new or remodeled police ranks.
Under democracy, This is especially likely in peaceful demo-
“security” is not cratic transitions, as such incorporation is
often a key plank in the pact that allowed
supposed to have the
the transition to be nonviolent in the first
sinister connotations place.
that the word takes Even when incorporation is conditioned
on under a warlord or by vetting programs that seek to exclude the
dictator. most egregious henchmen of authoritarian-
ism, there will be enough holdovers from
the old force to make the task of changing
police culture essential. Authoritarian rulers train their police to intimi-
date people and crush opposition. In a democracy, police officers must see
people as citizens who need protecting and whose help is needed in the
fight against crime and corruption. It is often difficult or impossible to get
police officers who have long served in authoritarian regimes to change
their ways. Moreover, since records of police abuses and even crimes of-
ten are absent or were never compiled under authoritarian regimes or dur-
ing civil conflicts, the vetting process is usually of limited value.
In postconflict settings, police officers “checking papers” and con-
sciously or unwittingly intimidating citizens are a common sight. A
woman sitting on a street corner trying to sell three mangoes in the
blazing sun may see the man who murdered her husband and raped her
walk up in a new uniform. With impunity, he takes one of the mangoes
and starts to eat it as she freezes in terror. Even if the officer had not
previously assaulted her, the street-corner encounter would likely prove
most distressing.19
Holdovers from the old security forces may thus require even more
vetting and training than new recruits. Under democracy, “security” is
not supposed to have the sinister connotations that the word takes on
under a warlord or dictator. For the latter, it means cowed opponents,
terrified potential opponents, and “guys with guns” who enjoy whatever
rewards that the big man thinks he needs to hand them in order to keep
their loyalty. For a democracy, “security” implies limits on the govern-
ment’s power to detain or imprison people, and the welfare of citizens
takes priority over that of public officials. Democracy also requires in-
stitutions to monitor and correct corruption and other forms of official
Personnel steeped in the older culture and behavior may not be able
Michael D. Wiatrowski and Jack A. Goldstone 89

to make the transition, or may be able to do so only if closely supervised.

This is another reason why, in the early stages of state rebuilding or of a
transition to democracy, deploying international police forces for opera-
tions rather than just training is far preferable to deploying the former
police forces with only minimal retraining. Having international trainers
embedded with and actively mentoring new police for long periods is
key if old, democracy-unfriendly behaviors and those officers who will
not let go of them are to be rooted out.
Confronting police corruption is also critical. An oft-heard excuse
is that the police are corrupt because officers are ill paid. This dodge
is offered up even when security-sector workers make salaries compa-
rable to better-educated fellow citizens such as teachers. The truth is
that corruption grows where police are not held accountable for their
actions, and where state institutions for investigating and prosecuting
police misconduct are weak or absent.20 Corrupt police can undermine
the entire mission of building or stabilizing new democracies.
An unfortunate example of this tie between police corruption and
ineffective state-building is found in Afghanistan. The UN and NATO
have been active in Afghanistan for almost a decade and have invested
substantial amounts of manpower and money to train and equip a new
Afghan national police force. Yet the behavior of that force is often
cited by Afghans as the main reason for their distrust of the government
headed by President Hamid Karzai, and their willingness to tolerate Tal-
iban activities in their area.
A 2008 ICG report on the Afghan police-training program declared
that widespread police corruption and extortion were not being directly
confronted. “The population is crying out for law and order amid a per-
ception of rising crime,” says Joanna Nathan, ICG’s senior analyst in
Afghanistan. “It is only through making people feel safe and bringing
criminals to justice that this government will establish legitimacy.”21
The roots of this problem lie in defective training. It has become com-
monplace to observe that the Afghan National Army (ANA)—which
is both more effective and more popular than the national police—is
much the better trained of the two formations. In Afghanistan, reports
Larry Goodson, “police receive far less training than the ANA, return to
their provinces and towns without embedded trainers (unlike the ANA
forces), and are paid far less than the ANA soldiers, creating conditions
for endemic police corruption.”22
Overcoming police corruption requires the establishment of account-
ability. Several measures can help. First, those guilty of engaging in
or tolerating the most flagrant corruption must be purged from police
ranks. Second, support for the battle against police corruption must be
marshaled from the state administration as a whole; everyone from those
at the top of the relevant national ministry (usually Interior) through dis-
trict police leaders must take responsibility and refuse to look the other
90 Journal of Democracy

way. Third, there must be mechanisms for accountability. This means

nonpolice channels for civilian complaints, prosecutors who can rely
on police internal-affairs and anticorruption units, and local commit-
tees that bring police officials together with community leaders. Fourth
and perhaps most crucially, police trainers
with long experience in democratic po-
If police training is to licing need to remain embedded in local
contribute to building police units for up to several years, men-
democratic stability, toring and providing standards for police
top policy makers
Intensive, sustained efforts at police re-
need to make train- construction have shown success even in dif-
ing that emphasizes ficult settings. In Kosovo, the UN deployed
democratic-policing five-thousand international police while the
principles central to OSCE trained a new Kosovar police force
that effort. to replace former Serbian forces. In both El
Salvador and Haiti, respectively, internation-
al civilian police and police trainers spent up
to two years dismantling and replacing the old police forces. While these
are smaller countries, it was the long-term commitment of donors and the
longer apprenticeship of local police that appear to have been crucial to
A final problem is the lack of an international consensus on how
to train and deploy international forces and trainers in postconflict and
emerging democracies. Current efforts at international police training
are a jumble of separate and competing jurisdictions and programs,
without a common focus or a widely accepted model to follow. While
the UN, when it has had sufficient resources, has implemented some
excellent programs, and the EU and NATO have worked hard to imple-
ment comprehensive reforms in candidate countries, the critical impor-
tance of democracy-friendly policing seems to have been lost on the
U.S. policy makers and the international coalition leaders who designed
the assistance programs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This problem may exist because a number of disconnected groups
are responsible for various elements of police training and deployment.
No single agency of the U.S. government has taken responsibility for
training and deploying police in conformity with democratic-policing
principles. The U.S. military seems to want local police to be trained as
quickly as possible so that they can be deployed in support of counterin-
surgency operations. The U.S. State Department, which has handed over
international law-enforcement training to its Narcotics Bureau, seems
to want local police to take the lead in drug-control and antitrafficking
operations. Bureaucratic tunnel vision prevails.
It is not surprising that police-reform efforts have been most success-
ful in small countries where a single agency—most often the UN—is in
Michael D. Wiatrowski and Jack A. Goldstone 91

charge of international police operations and training programs. Larger

efforts have been badly fragmented. In Afghanistan, the G-8 donors, at
their 2002 conference in Geneva, divided security-sector reform into five
“pillars,” with a different country or countries managing each: forma-
tion and training of the Afghan military (U.S.); formation and training
of the Afghan police (Germany at first, currently the U.S. with German
support); reform of the Justice Ministry (Italy); antinarcotics operations
(Britain); and disarming and demobilizing private militias (Japan). Each
of these programs proceeded on its own timetable, suffered poor coordi-
nation, and lost momentum over time.24
If police training is to contribute to building democratic stability,
top policy makers need to make training that emphasizes democratic-
policing principles central to that effort. Training programs should fol-
low widely agreed-upon procedures, such as those modeled in the OSCE
Guidebook on Democratic Policing. These programs must be able to
draw on an experienced corps of international police, thoroughly im-
bued with the principles of democratic policing, who can deploy where
needed at short notice and then stay to train and mentor local police as
they adapt to the demands of democratic governance.

1. Charles T. Call, ed., Constructing Justice and Security after War (Washington, D.C.:
U.S. Institute of Peace, 2007), 7. See also Sean McFate, Securing the Future: A Primer
on Security Sector Reform in Conflict Countries, USIP Special Report 209, Washington,
D.C., September 2008.

2. Robert C. Trojanowicz and Samuel Dixon, Criminal Justice and the Community
(Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1974). All of Peel’s principles are presented in “A
History of the Nine Principles of Policing,” available at

3. Nathan Pino and Michael D. Wiatrowski, Democratic Policing in Transitional and

Developing Countries (Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2006); David H. Bayley, Chang-
ing the Guard: Developing Democratic Policing Abroad (New York: Oxford University
Press, 2006); Otwin Marenin, Restoring Policing Systems in Conflict-Torn Nations: Prac-
tices, Problems and Prospects (Geneva: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of
Armed Forces, 2006); Kevin Carty, “Challenges in Implementing Democratic Policing in
Peacekeeping Operations,” paper presented at the Rutgers University–Newark conference
on “Post-Conflict Security Sector Reform and Democratic Policing,” 2008.

4. See the UN Police website at

5. James Dobbins et al., The Beginner’s Guide to Nation Building (Santa Monica,
Calif.: RAND Corporation, 2007).

6. David T. Johnson, “U.S. Civilian Police Training Worldwide: Training Aimed at

Building Local Capacity,” Journal of International Peace Operations 4 (July–August
2008): 13–16.

7. William G. O’Neill, Police Reform and Human Rights (New York: HURIST, 2005), 6.

8. See the sources in note 3 above and also David H. Bayley, Democratizing the Police
92 Journal of Democracy

Abroad: What to Do and How to Do It (Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice,

2001), and Senior Police Adviser to the OSCE Secretary-General, Guidebook on Demo-
cratic Policing (Vienna: OSCE, 2008).

9. Dobbins et al., Beginner’s Guide to Nation Building, 67.

10. Richard Youngs, Is the European Union Supporting Democracy in Its Neighbour-
hood? (Madrid: FRIDE, 2008).

11. David H. Bayley, Police for the Future (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994);
David Weisburd and John Eck, “What Can Police Do to Reduce Crime, Disorder and
Fear?” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 593 (2004): 42–65;
Robert C. Trojanowicz and Bonnie Bucqueroux, Community Policing: A Contemporary
Perspective (Cincinnati: Anderson, 1990); Robert J. Sampson, “Transcending Tradition:
New Directions in Community Research, Chicago Style,” Criminology 40 (May 2002):
213–30; John Kretzmann and John McKnight, Building Communities from the Inside Out:
A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets (Chicago: ACTA, 1993)

12. Dobbins et al., Beginner’s Guide to Nation Building, 59.

13. Inspectors General, U.S. Departments of State and Defense, “Draft Report: Inter-
agency Assessment of Iraq Police Training,” 3, 15 July 2005. Available at http://www.

14. Brian Nichiporuk, Alternative Futures and Army Force Planning: Implications for
the Future Force Era (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, 2005).

15. Robert M. Perito, “U.S. Police in Peace and Stability Operations,” USIP Special
Report 191, Washington, D.C., August 2007; Terrence K. Kelly et al., A Stability Po-
lice Force for the United States: Justification and Options for Creating U.S. Capabilities
(Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, 2009).

16. Brian Hansford, “UN Police Strive for Quality over Quantity as Role Changes,”
UN Police Magazine, December 2006, 8–9.

17. Michael D. Wiatrowski, Nathan W. Pino, and Anita Pritchard, “Policing and
Formed Police Units during Democratic Transitions,” Journal of Security Sector Manage-
ment 6 (November 2008): 1–14.

18. International Crisis Group, “Bangladesh: Getting Police Reform on Track,” Asia
Report No. 182, 11 December 2009.

19. Sean McFate, “The Art and Aggravation of Vetting in Post Conflict Environments”
Military Review (June–August 2007): 79–97.

20. Michael D. Wiatrowski, Lynette Feder, and Tim Lenz, “Policing, Corruption and
Democratic Development: The Role of Human Rights” in Stanley Einstein and Menachem
Amir, eds. Police Corruption: Paradigms, Models and Concept-Challenges for Develop-
ing Countries (Huntsville, Tex.: Office of International Criminal Justice, 2003).

21. International Crisis Group, “Policing in Afghanistan: Still Searching for a Strat-
egy,” Asia Briefing No. 85, 18 December 2008.

22. Larry P. Goodson, “Lessons of Nation-Building in Afghanistan,” in Francis Fu-

kuyama, ed., Nation-Building: Beyond Afghanistan and Iraq (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 2006), 150.

23. Dobbins et al., Beginner’s Guide to Nation Building, 60, 67.

24. Goodson, “Lessons of Nation-Building,” 148–50.

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