A local policeman fires tear gas directly inside a car in Ma'ameer
The happy article of the week about Bahrain may be this one from thousands of miles away, as Oren Yaniv of the New York Daily News portrays how all is well with the reform of the kingdom's police:
A veteran judge recently left the Brooklyn bench for Bahrain to educate local cops about their legal obligations as they crack down on protests in the Middle Eastern state.
Supreme Court Justice John Walsh, who’s been teaching cops and judges for years, spent a week lecturing more than half the police force of the Persian Gulf nation on making arrests, refraining from torture and dealing with demonstrators.
“Cops are the same all over the world,” he said . “I have a technique to kind of reach them. ”
Bahrain, a U.S. ally, has been roiled by pro-democracy demonstrations as part of the Arab Spring. Members of the Shiite majority, demanding equality from the ruling Sunni monarchs, have been met with brutal tactics.
Walsh, who spent 26 years in the city’s Police Department before being appointed a judge in 1989, was invited to run the training by John Timoney, he said.
A long-time NYPD official and former Philadelphia police commissioner, Timoney was tapped by Bahrain to reform its law enforcement forces after an independent commission slammed their unlawful conduct.
The 70-year-old Walsh had no background in international law. For six weeks, he immersed himself in the subject before spending the last week of March in Bahrain, giving a series of five-hour presentations to 700 cops.
He was surprised by some of the facts on the ground, like learning officers don’t carry firearms and fight rallies with tear gas and batons. Some expressed frustration, he said.
“That’s the job you chose,” he told them. “If you don’t like it, leave.”
Walsh called the civil rights training “a big step” for the tiny island nation, noting no similar program is available for American cops.
“I think I accomplished something,” he said. “One would hope that something stuck.”