Each year, the United States Government invests billions of dollars to train and equip police in countries that present a vital security interest such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombia, and Mexico.  In FY 2009, USAID spent $45 million to fund 40 civilian police assistance programs in 27 countries. Activities ranged from inclusion of civilian police in core development programs, such as those designed to reduce gender-based violence, to programs that focus explicitly on civilian police performance. Many people ask: “Why should USAID provide civilian police assistance?” The answer is simple. Civilian police are the largest representative of government in many countries and serve as lynchpins for a broad range of governance functions.

“For the average citizen, civilian police is the most visible symbol of government and an indicator of quality of governance. The relationship between civilian police and the community almost always mirrors the overall relationship between the citizenry and its government. Civilian police action, conduct and reputation tend to reflect on the ability of the entire criminal justice and, indeed, of the entire government, to carry out its functions effectively.”  (A Field Guide For USAID Democracy and Governance Officers: Assistance to Civilian Law Enforcement in Developing Countries, p15)

Many sectors, including agriculture, health and economic growth benefit from improved law enforcement.  For example, improved security can enable freer transit of goods to markets, increase investment in areas that may have been commercially underserved, or enable business expansion.  Effective policing is also critically important for reducing gender-based violence (GBV) and trafficking in persons (TIP).

In June 2010, USAID developed and sent a security survey to the field. Seventy-five percent of the respondents indicated that security and justice issues were currently “very high” or “high” priorities in the Missions, while 69 percent of respondents said that “security and justice issues are a higher priority than their current program portfolio reflects.”

On Friday, July 8, 2011, the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) will host a discussion on this timely issue that brings together USAID and USIP leaders with Lieutenant General James Dubik (Former Commander, Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq),  Ali A. Jalali (Former Interior Minister of Afghanistan and present Distinguished Professor at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University), John Buchanan (Deputy Director, International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program, Department of Justice) and Michele Greenstein (Dept. of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs).  At this discussion, USAID will introduce “A Field Guide For USAID Democracy and Governance Officers: Assistance to Civilian Law Enforcement in Developing Countries” that is the United States government’s first ever field guide on this issue.  For 20 years the United States Government coordinated law enforcement development assistance without a roadmap. This book serves as that roadmap and it provides an invaluable analytical and programming framework for the whole of government to promote sustainable institutional law enforcement development in the post-QDDR (Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review) world.

If you are in the DC area and would like to join us for this discussion, please register for the event.