Saturday, October 18, 2003

The Emergency Service Unit is not quite a success story yet. Taught to use outdated police techniques and procedures that police officers in the U.S. abandoned in the 1960s, they must now learn "basic law enforcement," Routh says. Most of them have not practiced shooting since they graduated from the Baghdad Police Academy more than a decade ago. And Routh wonders whether they are in good enough shape to carry the 65 pounds of protective gear and equipment he normally uses as a police officer in Hannibal, Mo.

"Before the war, we only had some bull -- training," says Capt. Ahmed Ahmed, who has been a police officer for 11 years. Pointing at a bottle of water on a desk in the corner of his small office, he elaborated: "I'm a captain, but if I wanted to shoot at this bottle I would probably miss."

Under Saddam Hussein, he said, he and other police officers from his unit were ordered to learn to climb palm trees so they could chop off withering fronds.

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