Support our mission
Capt. Reggie Kornegay, a civil affairs officer with the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion who is attached to the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment in Baghdad, goes over last-minute preparations for the inaugural class of the Iraqi Police Leaders Operational Assistance and Development Course with translator Nora Issam.

Capt. Reggie Kornegay, a civil affairs officer with the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion who is attached to the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment in Baghdad, goes over last-minute preparations for the inaugural class of the Iraqi Police Leaders Operational Assistance and Development Course with translator Nora Issam. (Lisa Burgess / S&S)

Capt. Reggie Kornegay, a civil affairs officer with the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion who is attached to the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment in Baghdad, goes over last-minute preparations for the inaugural class of the Iraqi Police Leaders Operational Assistance and Development Course with translator Nora Issam.

Capt. Reggie Kornegay, a civil affairs officer with the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion who is attached to the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment in Baghdad, goes over last-minute preparations for the inaugural class of the Iraqi Police Leaders Operational Assistance and Development Course with translator Nora Issam. (Lisa Burgess / S&S)

Capt. Reggie Kornegay, seated at computer, is the leader of the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment’s new Iraqi Police Leaders Operational Assistance and Development Course.

Capt. Reggie Kornegay, seated at computer, is the leader of the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment’s new Iraqi Police Leaders Operational Assistance and Development Course. (Lisa Burgess / S&S)

BAGHDAD — “To serve and protect” is the motto of police departments across the United States. Most police officers take the position as a moral duty, not just a job.

But in the 30 years Saddam Hussein was in power, things were different for Iraqi police. They had the financial outlook of many American waiters: Salary was minimal; the real money was in tips.

Up to now, Iraqis seeking police assistance have been going to the Americans with their complaints, according to a translator for the 1st Cavalry Division. “We tell them to go to the Iraqi police,” he said, “and they say, ‘We do, but they won’t help us, and ask us for money.’”

Capt. Reggie Kornegay, 33, who grew up on the streets of Harlem, N.Y., is not judgmental about the Iraqi police’s former operating techniques. He said he understands why police working under Saddam did what they did.

“If the police were corrupt, it was because the entire system was corrupt,” said Kornegay, a civilian police officer for seven years and now a civil affairs officer with the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion. He is currently attached to the 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment in Baghdad.

“You don’t blame individual officers if the leadership did not instill” the service ethic, he said.

But in order to “establish the true legitimacy” of the Iraqi police force, that has to change, he said. And now, “all the tools are present” for a professional force, he said.

The coalition has invested millions of dollars in the new force. In the past year, thousands of Iraqi police officers have undergone coalition-sponsored training in the fundamentals of tactical police work. Most have weapons and uniforms, and most police stations have been rebuilt to provide protection against attack.

But something basic is still missing: “We need to instill the moral, ethical and professional characteristics of a police department,” said Kornegay, who has been assigned to training Iraqi police. “Anyone will tell you it’s not there.

“Hell, the [Iraqi police] leaders will tell you it’s not there.”

That’s why Sunday morning at Forward Operating Base Headhunter, 20 Iraqi police patrol and section leaders sat in a makeshift classroom, listening to trainers explain the curriculum for the new five-day Iraqi Police Leaders Operational Assistance and Development Course.

The sessions will emphasize community policing, ethics and professional standards of behavior.

The original six trainers for the course are Kornegay, two Iraqi interpreters along with Spc. Sean Martin, Sgt. Melvin Slagle and Staff Sgt. Kelsey Groff, all members of Company C, 1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry, of the Arkansas National Guard.

Kornegay hopes that what the staff is trying to teach the Iraqis will make a big difference to the police force — and to Iraq as a whole.

“When the Iraqi police can effectively operate and protect the community, we will see a drastic change in the sentiments of the people,” Kornegay said. “Professional policing saves lives.”


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up