The Iraqis visited Stavanger's police headquarters on Tuesday as a part of their Joint Warfare Centre key leader training. What left them speechless in the end was that the cells were cleaned to perfection and the surprisingly low number of officers on duty each day who in addition are unarmed.
- We have about 15 police officers on the streets of Stavanger and its surroundings each day, police station chief Bengt Rode told a stunned Iraqi crowd.
According to Graham Day, a lecturer of the training programme, one of the advantages of inviting the Iraqis to Norway is exactly this.
- We want to show them that it is possible to maintain a peaceful, working society, and there is no better place to show this than Norway, ranked number one in the world when it comes to living standards, Mr Day says.
The tour of the police station started in the cells. Suddenly an inmate shouted words in Norwegian, and the Iraqis all looked into his cell. He was lying under a rug on the floor.
- Most likely a car thief or a burglar, Rode said
- Is this where the terrorists are brought as well?
- Luckily, Norway has not got too many terrorists, Rode answered with a smile.
In Norway, the police can arrest anyone and keep them for a maximum of 24 hours. If there is no evidence against the arrested, they have to be released.
The tour went on to the equipment that the Norwegians use to regulate traffic and in cases where weapons and armour are necessary. The Iraqis were shown both uniformed and civilian cars with video cameras, motorcycles, laser equipment to detect speeding, machine guns and helmets.
- We have that one too, one of them said when a police officer showed them the armoured vest.
Earlier in the day, Graham Day talked to the Iraqi group about the importance of a stable police organisation in any society, using Bosnia as a case study. Mr Day is currently working at the Office of the High Representatives in Bosnia with governmental liaisons with ministries and coordination of all aspects of civil implementation of the Dayton Agreement.
- Without law and order, no society can work properly, Mr Day says.
Refugees will not return unless law and order has been restored and elections cannot be held, according to the Canadian diplomat.
- Everything is dependent on law and order, and humanitarian organisations have just started realising this. Before, food was most important. But soon after the rice bags had been dropped, the local warlord confiscated all of it, so all they were only feeding the warlord, he says.
He also emphasised the importance of a police directorate or a watchdog.
- You need someone to check that the police is obeying their own rules, Mr Day says.
By Espen Schiager and Eirik Hovland (photo), National Joint Headquarters