Cops of the World
bstoller at utopia2000.org
Mon May 28 21:57:24 MDT 2001
Washington Post. 29 May 2001. Misconduct, Corruption by U.S. Police Mar
Bosnia Mission. Excerpts.
UNITED NATIONS In the five years since international police officers
were sent to Bosnia to help restore law and order, the U.N. police
mission there has faced numerous charges of misconduct, corruption and
sexual impropriety. But in virtually every case, the allegations have
been hushed up by sending officers home, often without a full
investigation, according to internal U.N. reports and interviews with
U.S. and European officials.
"Here we are, international police officers hoping to demonstrate and
impress the locals with democratic policing and high moral values, and
we're actually presenting them with one or two people who ought to be
investigated and locked up," said Richard Monk, a top British police
officer who served as the U.N. police commissioner in 1997.
Among the 1,832 U.N. police in Bosnia are 161 officers from the United
States. Although the record of the U.S. contingent is no worse than
others, senior American officials acknowledge serious problems in
selecting and training U.S. police officers to serve in Bosnia. That job
has been given to a private, Texas-based corporation, DynCorp Technical
Services, under an exclusive, $15 million annual contract with the State
In the past year alone, at least three American policemen were removed
from the Bosnian mission for sexual misconduct and exceeding their
authority, according to U.N. officials.
In prior cases, several other U.S. officers had been forced to resign
under suspicion of committing statutory rape, abetting prostitution and
accepting valuable gifts from Bosnian officials. Yet none was
prosecuted. The most serious punishment imposed on an American officer
was dismissal and the loss of a $4,600 bonus.
International police have diplomatic immunity from prosecution in
Bosnia, and unless their governments waive that immunity, the most
severe punishment the United Nations can impose on renegade officers is
to send them home.
DynCorp refuses to disclose how many U.S. officers have been sent home
and says privacy laws effectively prevent it from telling prospective
employers about misconduct allegations.
Thomas Miller, the U.S. ambassador in Bosnia, conceded that in a race to
find American police willing to serve abroad, the U.S. contingent
accepted some officers who were unfit to serve on the International
Police Task Force, or IPTF. "In terms of the quality of U.S. IPTF folks,
I have seen some really good ones," Miller said. "And I've heard about
some not so good ones. No, let's be honest, bad ones."
President Bill Clinton issued a presidential decision directive, known
as PDD 71, in February 2000 acknowledging that "the current process used
by our government to recruit, prepare, train and deploy civilian police
officers to CivPol operations is not adequate."
When the U.N. mission in Bosnia began in 1996, DynCorp scoured U.S.
police departments in search of bored or underpaid officers looking for
a change of pace. Advertisements in police publications promised
adventure in a distant land for as much as $100,000 a year. To meet the
State Department's demand for police, the company hired many retired
officers, including some older than 65.
"The top 10 percent [of the American contingent] were fantastic: They
are what made the mission," said a former U.N. police officer who
requested anonymity. "But the bottom 10 percent made your eyes water."
One former Illinois state trooper was wearing a pacemaker when he
arrived in the town of Stolac to set up the U.N. police headquarters,
according to Steve Smith, a former officer from Santa Cruz, Calif., who
served as the U.N.'s regional commander in Stolac. "There was [another]
guy, he was very elderly, in his sixties, that couldn't stay awake,"
Smith said. "He was very overweight, he waddled rather than walked.
Neither one of them could have passed a physical."
But the main trouble with American officers, in Smith's view, was that
they were difficult to command.
"It's easy to keep the French guys in line because they come from the
Gendarmerie Nationale and they get an evaluation at the end of their
stay," he said. "For the Americans, on the other hand, there are no
professional consequences unless they want to keep working for DynCorp.
The problem is that you have no hammer. . . .
"They're making $85,000 in a place where everyone else is making $5,000
and they're chasing whores, they're shacking up with young women, and
they're basically just having a good time," Smith said.
Richard C. Holbrooke, the architect of the Dayton agreement, has
described the police mission as its "weakest" component.
One American officer was fired in December after the United Nations
learned that he had paid 6,000 German marks -- about $2,900 -- to
acquire "ownership" of a Moldovian prostitute he met at a brothel in
Sarajevo. She lived with the officer for several months before leaving
him in a quarrel and returning to the brothel, according to senior U.S.
and U.N. officials.
Some commanders took a lenient view of the officer's actions. "This
American was a rather innocent dupe," said a senior U.N. official. "It's
actually a love story. He fell in love with this girl and bought her
That incident was only the latest in a series of alleged misconduct
cases that have tarnished American police officials in Bosnia.
David McBride, 53, a former Oklahoma commissioner of public safety, rose
quickly through the IPTF ranks to become deputy police commissioner
before he was forced to resign in August 1999.
An internal disciplinary panel concluded that he had violated the code
of conduct by accepting financial favors from local government
authorities, including a free room at the Interior Ministry's guest
house, a mobile phone and use of a VW Golf automobile. When McBride
traveled to the provincial town of Jace for a meeting, a local
Bosnian-Croat police chief, Jozo Lucic, paid his hotel bill, according
to U.N. investigators and McBride himself.
Senior U.N. and DynCorp officials said the gifts and McBride's failure
to file reports on his meetings with local authorities had created at
least the appearance of a conflict of interest.
In another case, Peter Alzugaray, 53, a former Miami police officer,
attracted the attention of U.N. investigators in the spring of 1997, a
year after he allegedly began a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old
Bosnian girl in the town of Drvar.
"He said he was adopting her. She said that he had given her two rings,
and that he was going to take her to America," said a U.N. official
familiar with the case. "And the mother signed a document saying the
girl could live with this guy."
A DynCorp official said the company fired Alzugaray and stripped him of
his police gear as soon as it learned of the situation. But he
disappeared before the company could send him back to the United States,
the DynCorp official said.
The relationship ended swiftly, he said, when she discovered that he had
lied to her about owning his own house in America and having only one
ex-wife and two children. After arriving in Miami, they moved into a
room in his sister's home, and he admitted that he had been married
three times and had six children, Alzugaray said.
In December, two American, two British and two Spanish police officers
were forced out of the IPTF after they overstepped their authority by
raiding three brothels and freeing 34 women. The top U.N. official in
Bosnia, Jaques Klein, initially described the men as overzealous but
superb officers who had acted out of moral outrage.
Under questioning by U.N. police investigators, however, some of the
officers admitted having had sexual relations with women they had
rescued, according to U.N. sources and an internal U.N. document. A
British officer who participated in the raid told U.N. investigators
that his colleagues had been regular customers at the three brothels.
In the end, U.N. officials said, the raid was triggered by the visit of
a 17-year-old Eastern European woman to a police station in the town of
Prijedor. She complained that she and several other women were being
forced into prostitution against their will, and the raid took place
within 24 hours.
Proletarian news & Leninist debate
More information about the Marxism