(photo credit: EUPOL COPPS )
The development of a fully functioning Palestinian civilian police force is a crucial cornerstone for the establishment of a Palestinian state, the head of an EU mission set up to bolster Palestinian police in the West Bank said during a press conference in Ramallah on Wednesday.
British Chief Constable (ret.) Paul Kernaghan, the outgoing head of the EU Police Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUPOL COPPS), said his vision was "to see the Palestinian Civil Police [PCP] operating alone on the streets of Palestine."
He added that "in most situations the PCP will be the only security force the Palestinian people encounter in their every day life. Such a development would mark a significant achievement in the creation of a viable and stable Palestinian state. I know that vision is shared by many Palestinian colleagues and the general public."
During the press conference, Kernaghan praised the progress made by Palestinian police in a number of areas.
Under EUPOL COPPS's guidance, a pilot project for community policing was launched this year in Azun, near Kalkilya. Additionally, Palestinian police officers completed their first phase of training to operate a control room.
This year, the Palestinian Authority's civilian police force received 277 policing vehicles, and EUPOL COPPS oversaw the construction of the Jericho Police Training School, set for completion in 2010.
Palestinian civilian detention facilities have undergone refurbishment, and a new prison is being constructed in Jericho, the organization said.
EUPOL COPPS is made up of 41 foreign staff members and 25 Palestinians. It was launched by the European Council in 2005 and is one of the 10 civilian European Security and Defense Policy Missions currently active in the world.
Its stated goal is to support "the whole of the Palestinian criminal justice system from the civil police to the penitentiary system, and everything in between."
EUPOL COPPS includes field advisers who visit Palestinian police stations around the West Bank daily to provide training and equipment, and specialist advisers who provide expertise on police command and control, criminal investigations, crime scene investigation work, and public order maintenance.