David Bayley is one of the most prolific authors on comparative international policing, and Robert Perito has written extensively on practical police and stabilization issues from the USIP. This is a valuable book because it highlights the blending of military and police functions that occurs in post 9/11 stablization, but is not without historical perspective. It is undercut slightly by its American focus, particularly the bookends - getting it wrong (ch. 1) and getting it right (ch. 8); in between, the “we” is clearly American, but much of the content is nevertheless valuable for general audiences. Ch. 2 addresses what Americans should have learned from as far back as the Spanish-American war of 1898, Panama, Somalia, Haiti, BiH, and Kosovo: local police are not capable; policing is mission critical; military cannot provide police; international civpol are needed to return local police to control; international forces have to arrive with a plan for policing; local police must be accountable to law, not “little soldiers”; don’t use military forces to train police; it takes a decade to build a police force; it takes political commitment and effective governance. Ch. 3 reviews the police role in containing violence, according to US COIN doctrine. I’m not sure that’s the best place to start. US COIN doctrine seems to me a bit dubious at best. Ch. 4 presents a strategic algorithm for balancing legitimacy with the use of force. Here they could be quoting the SWORD papers, but I don’t see Fishel or Manwaring in the references. Legitimacy is one of those wheels that keeps getting reinvented. Ch. 5 addresses fundamentals of police training and core police functions: available, helpful, fair and respectful. Here there are a lot of details about the basic curriculum content, and in this section, it is eminently practical more than academic. This is what Bayley means when he says books on security shouldn’t be too generic to be useful to practitioners. Ch. 6 on world practice is more of the same, at a very tactical level. See p. 118 for a detailed curriculum comparison. Ch. 7 on institutional reform goes to the governance framework within which policing has to function, and the final chapter addresses US policy. Taking away the US-centrism, and the dubious COIN focus, it’s got a lot of useful stuff for international operations in general, and probably obviates the “police-keeping” book Graham Day was talking about writing more than 15 years ago. The Kratcoski and Das book gives an idea about what a more global picture of police operations might look like, although more focused on domestic than international stabilization policing.
(also posted on Amazon)
David Last, 11 November 2013