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First Cav team screens Iraqi Police applicants

By Spc. Eric LeDrew

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Army News Service, Jan. 21, 2005) - Hundreds of candidates showed up for the monthly Iraqi Police screening session Jan. 11 held by the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

The session, held at the Baghdad Convention Center in the International Zone, reviewed Iraqis applying join the Iraqi Police Force.

Capt. Paul Mitura of Company B, 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion, said more than 300 Iraqis were lined up at a checkpoint outside the International Zone, before the screening process got underway.

"Unfortunately, we're only going to be able to allow about 230 through today," Mitura said.

all of the IP applicants came recommended by their district councils,

according to Maj. James Joos, commander of Company B, 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion, whose Soldiers were in charge of the overall running of the event, "It is important that they come recommended because if the Iraqi Police don't have the trust of the community, then you don't have a viable police force." Joos said.

Many of the Iraqis that were not from Baghdad came at the recommendation of the Iraqi Assistance Center from areas such as Basrah.

"The Iraqi Assistance Center asked if an overflow of applicants from others areas could be sent our way and of course, we didn't say 'No'," he added.

The applicants were escorted in groups of about 20 from the checkpoint to a paved stretch of road next to the convention center where they took a physical fitness test.

The candidates were tested in the 1500-meter run, a 100-meter dash, pushups and pull-ups, according to Sgt. Walter Miscles, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division,

Those applicants who passed the test moved on to a literacy test.

"It's important that police officers be able to read and write but for whatever reason, this month we had a rather high illiteracy rate," Joos said.

Following that, each candidate then underwent a background check and an interview with an Iraqi Police officer, assisted by Soldier from a Military Intelligence company.

"It's vastly important that the IP officers themselves conduct these interviews because it is their police force, after all," Joos said.

"Our MI Soldiers are really there just to ensure that the applicants' are documents authentic," he added.

After passing the interview, the IP candidates then received quick medical screening, checking vision, blood pressure, and cardio-pulmonary health.

"It's basically just a quick head-to -toe exam to ascertain that they don't have any major health problems," said Capt. Martin Rose, a medical officer with E Company, 215th Forward Support Battalion.

"If the applicants pass everything," he added, "then they'll get a much more thorough physical exam from an Iraqi doctor later on."

In all, 258 applicants made it through the entire screening process.

"The critical things that follow this initial step are the training that these IP candidates will receive at the Baghdad Police Academy, the field training they will get working with our [Military Police] and the additional on-the-job training they get from their co-workers and the [Civilian Police Assistant Trainers]," Joos said.

According to Joos, those that didn't pass are welcome to return the following month and try again.

"One of the main Civil Affairs missions here is to increase the indigenous population's ability to help themselves," Joos said. "That's exactly what we tried to accomplish today."

(Editor's note: Spc. Erik LeDrew writes for the 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

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