FALLUJAH, Iraq --
The Shuhada Iraqi Police station, first of many developed police stations planned to open throughout al Anbar province, opened here, Dec. 6.
Iraqi police, city officials and Coalition Forces celebrated the opening of the facility with a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the significance of the establishment and the impact it will have on the community.
The opening of the IP station is a celebration of security and safety of the people, said the Fallujah mayor. He congratulated and thanked everyone for the hard work in establishing what he and other Iraqis were referring to as “the great structure.”
Iraqi police from both the Nazaal and Jubayl precincts have combined to create a single larger force of approximately 80 policemen who will work out of the station. As Marines are still actively supporting the police, two platoons with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, have taken up occupancy in the new building alongside the IPs. Iraqi community watch members will also utilize the facility.
“It’s a big deal,” said 2nd Lt. Nathan S. Bibler, platoon commander of 4th platoon with Company L. “A lot of IPs have been through so much in creating and planning for this building, and to actually see it happen is big. It’s probably a huge sign to the Anbar province because it’s such a huge development. This facility is going to give them a lot of what they need by pulling two police stations together. It’s a really big symbol and it’s a great day for Fallujah. It’s a place for an active professional police force to work out of and it’s the first one for this community.”
Construction of the building began in 2005. Initial plans for the station had to overcome an extended period of violence that continually posed a threat to its completion. Progress with initial construction efforts were brought to a halt when insurgents persistently attacked it and attempted to destroy the building. Due to the violence, contractors left, causing construction to cease for over a year. Contractors returned in recent months to the job site to finish as security had improved throughout the city.
The police station was named “Shuhada”, Arabic for martyr, in memory of fallen comrades of the Iraqi police who died protecting the building while it was still under construction. Three died defending the station and many others were wounded.
“The great structure, it stood up regardless of all the attacks on it,” said Sheik Salaam, deputy chairman of the city council. “This is the fruit of the combined efforts of Coalition Forces, Iraqi police and the great citizens of Fallujah.”
Col. Abdul Kareem, the Fallujah police executive officer, referred to it as the “efforts of love and peace” between Iraqis and Coalition Forces.
The two-story facility is more spacious and will give the IPs and others more room for their work. It will provide the IPs with a formal reception area, office spaces, detainee holding cells, carports, a kitchen and living areas. Reinforced guard posts have also been installed on the roof top.
“This police station is very similar to the ones that we have in the States,” said 2nd Lt. Justin W. Lappe, platoon commander of 3rd platoon with Company L. “We’ll see a lot more public interaction coming through the front door having a more normal and secure place for people to come to report problems.”
Tools that many of the IPs haven’t previously had access to, such as computers, printers, other administrative equipment and communication devices, will also be provided at the new facility.
“It gives them a place to start that next step in doing actual police work,” said Bibler.
The mayor said he hopes to see more Iraqi police stations open in the city, and he wants to see the police change their role from a military-like force to a more proper police role within the community. He spoke to the policemen present at the ceremony and told them to remember that “those are your brothers you’re dealing with in the streets.”
“Now that it’s up and running hopefully now we can get other ones open, not only in Fallujah, but throughout al Anbar,” said Bibler.
Plans for the other facilities, such as this one, haven’t begun because there has been so much else going on and there has only been time to focus on this one, Bibler, a Kouts, Ind., native, added.
Col. Richard L. Simcock II, regimental commander of RCT-6, attended the celebration as the last guest speaker to comment on the occasion.
“This building is a testament to the success we’ve had in the past four years,” said Simcock. “The key to our success over that time has been the cooperation and hard work we’ve done together as the army, Iraqi police, Coalition Forces and most importantly the citizens of Fallujah. Gentlemen, we cannot fail, and together we will continue success.”