Police Training Assistance: The Right Kind of Help

By Coates, Douglas; Last, David | Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services, December 2005 | Go to article overview

Police Training Assistance: The Right Kind of Help


Coates, Douglas, Last, David, Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services


Canada's experiences in supporting security sector reform and police development, particularly in Haiti, suggest some policy options and criteria for managing policy choices. This article considers the current constellation of police assistance efforts, the resources devoted to them, their impact on policing and security sector reform, and criteria for decision-making in the context of Canada's current policy-making environment. In general, this article concludes that political guidance should set the balance between indirect capacity development contributions and more direct contributions in conflict-affected countries. Further, it is suggested that Rapid Assessment Process research can provide feedback on the impact of contributions and help to adjust the resources that are devoted to various processes. As such, this research should be considered in the context of Canadian contributions to security sector reform, defence-diplomacy-development, and international stabilisation efforts.

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Canada's experiences supporting security sector reform and police development suggest some policy options and criteria for managing policy choices. This article considers a variety of forms that police assistance can take, the resources required by each form, their impact on policing and security sector reform in affected countries, and criteria for decision-making in the context of Canada's current policy-making environment. Although drawing primarily on Canadian experience and reflecting on Canadian policies, these issues are broadly relevant to other countries supporting security sector reform, though their policy environments will differ.

Overall, this article suggests that, as assistance moves from direct forms (i.e., deploying national police as part of an international force) to indirect forms (i.e., training foreign police and developing institutions), the impact of individual police efforts is diluted, but has longer-term consequences. This means, for example, that although we can observe the impact of one Canadian constable sent to Haiti (albeit in a small ambit), we have less direct measures of the impact of one Canadian police superintendent sent to Senegal to train police for deployment to Haiti as United Nations Civilian Police. It is argued that field research using Rapid Assessment Process can provide feedback on the impact and help to adjust the resources that are devoted to different forms of assistance. This should be considered in the context of other contributions to security sector reform, defence-diplomacy-development, and international stabilisation efforts.

This article is presented in four parts. First, a consideration of policy foundations is provided in order to help identify partners and prioritize areas for involvement. Second, the article presents a generic sequence of twelve steps for the provision of police assistance, including a number of alternatives for assisting in the evolution of stable and reliable police services. Third, the article attempts to match six options for police assistance to this generic sequence. Finally, consideration is given for assessing the impact of different forms of police assistance and making subsequent recommendations regarding their use.

POLICY FOUNDATIONS

There has been remarkable continuity in Canada's use of police as a tool for stability, from the origins of its national police through support for Empire, Cold War internationalism, and today's accommodation to the American-led world order. Canada has deployed police to nation-building and stabilization missions since shortly after Confederation, beginning with the Northwest Mounted Police being sent west in 1873, and continuing with the Riel Rebellion (Longstreth, 1960). In the aftermath of the Boer War, Canadian police volunteers helped to establish the South African police (Steele, 1915). Indeed, according to Preston (1967), scores of individual Canadian officers served as police of the Empire and Commonwealth throughout the world, including the Gold Coast, India, and Malaysia. …

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