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Salinas Police Chief Speaks to Iraqi Cops

Article by Kate Lamar; Photos by Leo Carrillo

Posted Aug. 27, 2010

Chief FetherolfPolice Chief Louis Fetherolf from Salinas, Calif, a city just a few miles from NPS, spoke to a group of Iraqi and Kurdish police officers on Aug. 18 at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). The Iraqi officers were attending the Defense Resources Management Institute (DRMI) for a specialized , four-week course that focused on building transparent institutions that link budgets to strategy, thereby building credibility with citizens. This is part of an ongoing partnership between DRMI faculty and Iraqi leaders that explores models of effective and efficient planning and allocation of public resources.

Chief Fetherolf was a natural fit for the course, according to Anke Richter, Academic Associate at DRMI. “Since the Iraqis’ background is the police force, they are very interested in how the police function in the U.S., what sort of problems they face and how they address some of these issues,” Richter said. 

“This is an opportunity for us to learn from each other,” said Francois Melese, the Deputy Executive Director of DRMI. “The Iraqi and Kurdish officers are learning about American policing, but the Salinas chief will also come away with insights from the Iraqis. Curbing violence is a problem for officers in both areas.”

Salinas has struggled with ongoing gang violence over the past few years. This year the city has seen violent crime drop significantly from last year. NPS has partnered with the city before – last year NPS faculty worked with city officials to explore the possible causes of violence in Salinas in order to better address the issue and find solutions.

Fetherolf, who has served as police chief in five different police departments throughout his career, discussed policing at the federal, state and local levels. He also answered questions on effective methods for combating corruption within police forces. Several Iraqi officers said corruption was an endemic issue within their departments.

Lt. Col. Haider Muhi, an attendee at the DRMI course and an Iraqi officer, said while similarities exist, there are some significant differences between what the Salinas chief faces and what the Iraqis encounter on a day-to-day basis. While Salinas battles criminal gangs, Iraq is confronted by domestic and international terrorists with both criminal and political agendas.

Melese agreed with Muhi, “There are similarities between these communities, but Iraq is definitely faced with a more violent and more determined enemy. In Iraq, they are also starting from scratch with their departments and institutions, and that’s where DRMI is able to help. We focus on all aspects of defense resources management. We hope Chief Fetherolf will be able to share some of the lessons he has learned over the years about effectively managing a police force.”

Charles J. LaCivita, DRMI’s Executive Director, put the course in context to the larger partnership DRMI has with the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense: “The [DRMI] curriculum shares international best practices with the Iraqi participants who must then decide how to shape and adapt them to their own culture to improve the government of Iraq’s ability to efficiently and effectively manage public resources.”

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