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KARBALA, Iraq — Many Iraqi police cadets will see some changes in the coming weeks in both the training they receive and in the buildings where they work, thanks in part to the 66th Military Police Company.

The unit, out of Fort Lewis, Wash., is doing site surveys and renovation work to get the Iraqi Karbala Police Academy and other stations fit, and helping implement a training program that is similar to what U.S. Army noncommissioned officers go through.

Reconstruction of the academy began approximately two weeks ago and will be done in less than two weeks. Once complete, about $60,000 worth of construction and new furniture will be put into the academy.

The new structure also will get an electrical overhaul, new walls and furnishings, according to 1st Lt. Tim Hogan, a company platoon leader.

“Of course, such things make people work better. If you feel comfortable in the place where you work, or you go back to your office after you finish duty and have a nice desk, some AC, or a good cot to lie down on during night duty, it makes you more efficient,” Nabeel Hameed Mansour, the Iraqi officer in charge of the rapid response team, said through an interpreter.

Typically, Iraqi police have 24-hour duty and are allowed to sleep during night shifts. Mansour said sometimes conditions would be so bad in the Iraqi working environments that it would be impossible to work properly.

About 2,600 Iraqis went through the police training course, monitored by the military, in the dilapidated academy. An additional 1,100 are scheduled to go through the revamped course.

The initial part is a three-week basic leadership development course designed to give Iraqi police a working knowledge of proper police tactics and procedures. They will then attend more advance courses as they progress through their career.

These courses include more instruction on general Iraqi police techniques, a SWAT team, weapons training, and a more specialized Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.

“We’re trying to make a transition process. We’re integrating a program of the basics in a three-week course, and then continuing to bridge the gap between what many Iraqi police learned under the regime, which basically had no human rights, to basic Western police skills,” Hogan said.

American instructors, who used to be police or security officers, aid in teaching leadership and procedure. Combining their knowledge of international security operations and the social and political issues their students face daily, the trainers present a variety of scenarios that the trainees might realistically encounter.

“I didn’t expect the Iraqi police force to be so open about working with us. I was pleasantly surprised,” said John McGray, a former police chief from New Jersey. “It’s been excellent.”

Iraqi police are also receiving new uniforms, as well as better weapons and improved security at their police stations throughout the city. It is part of an effort to have all security aspects run completely by Iraqi officials.

“We’re not micromanaging here. We’re mentoring, teaching Iraqis how to do it for themselves,” Hogan said.

“This is what gives them the independence to work by themselves in the future.”

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