Military Police Teach Iraqis to Properly Handle Evidence
2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry DivisionAL SINIYAH AIRBASE, Iraq - "What's the most important thing to remember when collecting evidence?" asked Staff Sgt. James Upton, a squad leader in 1st Platoon, 363rd Military Police Company.
"Wear gloves!" responded the Iraqi Army soldiers in unison.
This simple dialogue demonstrates one of the many lessons Iraqi Soldiers learned during the evidence collection training conducted at Al Siniyah Airbase, Iraq Jan. 17-19. The training was organized by Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, and taught by Soldiers of 1st Plt., 363rd MP Co., an Army Reserve unit from Jane Lew, W. Va.
Staff Sergeant James Upton instructs Iraqi Army soldiers on proper evidence collection procedures during Sensitive Site Exploitation Training Jan. 17-19, at Al Siniyah Airbase, Iraq. (US Army photo by 1st Lt. Timothy Kuppler, 2-16 Inf.)
Twelve Soldiers from the 14th Iraqi Army Brigade attended the training and learned basic forensics skills. The training was for Iraqi intelligence or reconnaissance soldiers who often respond to attacks or crimes, and must properly handle the evidence. The training was aimed to make the Iraqi soldiers more thorough and efficient at collecting and handling evidence.
"The better they learn these skills, the easier it will be to prosecute suspected criminals or insurgents," said Staff Sgt. Upton, a native of Hurricane, W. Va. and the primary instructor.
The purpose of the class was to make the proper custodial transfer of evidence from the scene of the incident to the courtroom as smooth as possible.
A U.S. Soldier simulates a detainee caught with contraband during a vehicle search as part of the Sensitive Site Exploitation Training held at Al Siniyah Airbase, Iraq. The Iraqi soldiers. (US Army photo by 1st Lt. Timothy Kuppler, 2-16 Inf.)
Through a combination of presentations in a classroom and practical exercises in multi-room buildings, students learned many different subjects ranging from handling, storing and labeling different types of evidence to identifying key indicators of improvised explosive devices.
"The most important thing I learned was to wear gloves because you don't want to leave your fingerprints on evidence," said 1st Lt. Mohammed, an intelligence officer in the 14th IA Bde.
The Iraqi soldiers learned that labs can lift evidence off of the most obscure or simple objects, therefore it is important to recognize the evidence and how to treat it.
Much of the training focused on how to collect evidence at checkpoints. The 14th Iraqi Army Brigade is responsible for more than a dozen checkpoints in the northern Salah ad-Din Province, explained Staff Sgt. Upton as he taught IA soldiers how to search a vehicle, and pointed out places to hide suspicious or illegal items.
Captain Fowzi, the intelligence officer from 2nd Battalion, 14th IA Bde, said this portion of the course was especially valuable because "we can go back and teach our IA soldiers how to search cars at their checkpoints."
Jundi Zuhayr, an IA soldier and student in the class agreed, "This is my job. Before I didn't know how to search a vehicle but now I know."
On the final day of the course the soldiers competed to determine which team could best search a building using proper techniques taught from the class. Each team navigated the rooms, systematically examining every corner and piece of furniture.
"The contest was good because we could see how much we learned during the course," said Sergeant Mazin, an intelligence soldier from 1st Battalion, 14th IA Bde.
The Iraqi soldiers were graded on their teamwork, overall organization, how well they collected the evidence, their handling of evidence and finally, how they packaged the evidence.
"They learned very quickly and used knowledge from the previous days in the final practical exercise. They were one of the best groups I've ever taught," said Staff Sgt. Upton.
With this foundation of knowledge, these IA intelligence officers and soldiers have a better understanding of how to recognize and handle evidence. These skills will help the 14th IA Bde. accomplish their mission of securing northern Salah ad-Din province now and in the future.
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