U.S. provides billions of dollars for foreign police assistance

The United States contributes millions of dollars each year to Mexican law enforcement that's used to purchase state-of-the-art equipment and to provide cutting-edge training, say foreign aid proponents. Photo credit: GAO/DoS


In the aftermath of the devastating terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States government found it necessary to garner the commitment and cooperation of foreign police and security departments to combat al-Qaeda and other radical Islamic groups, according to a government report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police and the Law Enforcement Examiner yesterday.

The U.S. government provided close to $14 billion for foreign police assistance during fiscal years 2009 through 2011, according to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative branch of the House of Representatives.

The GAO report states that funds provided by U.S. agencies rose and then fell between fiscal years 2009 and 2011. During fiscal years 2009 through 2011, the United States provided the greatest amount of its foreign police assistance to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Colombia, Mexico, and the Palestinian Territories. All of the funds were earmarked for anti-terrorist training and equipment except for Mexico, which is in the midst of a bloody “war” with its Drug Cartels and organized crime.

Funds given to foreign police agencies by the Departments of Defense (DOD) and State (State) constituted about 97 percent of U.S. funds for police assistance in fiscal year 2009 and 98 percent in fiscal years 2010 and 2011, the report states.

DOD and State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs  (State/INL) have acknowledged limitations in their procedures to assess and evaluate their foreign police assistance activities and are taking steps to address them.

“DOD assesses the performance of the police forces it trains and equips in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. However, the assessment process for Afghanistan does not provide data on civil policing effectiveness. DOD plans to expand its assessments to obtain data to assess the ability of these forces to conduct civil policing operations,” said the GAO analysts.

“In addition, recognizing that it had conducted only one evaluation of its foreign police assistance activities because it lacked guidelines, State/INL is developing an evaluation plan that is consistent with State’s February 2012 Evaluation Policy. This evaluation plan includes conducting evaluations for its largest police assistance programs in Iraq and Mexico.” 

U.S. agencies have implemented various mechanisms to coordinate their foreign police assistance activities as part of wider foreign assistance activities, such as the National Security Council’s (NSC)-led interagency policy committees that coordinate policies at a high level and various working groups at the overseas posts.

Specifically, NSC has not defined agencies’ roles and responsibilities for assisting foreign police. Further, DOD and State do not consistently share and document information. For example, DOD did not provide copies of its capability assessments of the Iraqi police to State, which is now responsible for police development in Iraq, because it destroyed the database containing the assessments at the end of its mission to train the police. Further, some U.S. embassies, including the one in Bogotá, Colombia, do not publish agendas or minutes of their proceedings.

GAO analyzed program and budget documents and interviewed officials from DOD, State, Energy, the U.S. Agency for International Development, Justice, the Treasury, and Homeland Security, according to the 67-page GAO report.

The Moral Liberal Contributing Editor, Jim Kouri, CPP, is the fifth Vice President and Public Information Officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, has served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Contact Jim.

Your comments