From the 15 October to 2 November 2012, the Italian city of Vicenza played host to the CEPOL Senior Police Officer Planning and Command Course for Crisis Management Missions (SPOPCOP) Course. The course - hosted for the second year in Italy - was organized by the Italian CEPOL Unit and the Carabinieri Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (COESPU) with support from Netherlands and France. Seventeen senior police officers from 14 EU Member States and from Turkey attended this three week course, one of the longest in the CEPOL catalogue. Significantly enough, the European Commission has recently identified training for peacekeeping contingents as one of the key elements of EU foreign policy, in the context of a project called “European Training Scheme”. The project aims to rationalize training for police officers. It consists of four steps: national, regional, European and International training. The document, which lays great emphasis on police missions, stresses that senior police officers operating on behalf of the EU should measure up to a standard mapped to a common core of skills, knowledge and competences geared to the needs of the country to which they are dispatched. At this stage, besides possessing technical know-how and having undergone excellent training, they should be fully conversant with EU values and the law enforcement code of ethics to be promoted in third countries with a view to recreating their institutions. A lot of synergy among the countries involved is needed to arrange this specific training, whose content has only partially been determined. We must be sensitive to the needs of future peacekeeping missions and respond to the challenges they pose.
Thus, CEPOL fulfills its mandate to support EU bodies which are responsible for organizing and directing missions within the context of the European External Action Service (EEAS).
The course was divided into six modules dealing with a general introduction to EU crisis management, cooperation/coordination between different actors in crisis management, strategic and operational planning of EU missions, leadership, communication and project management. The last two days were dedicated to a Command Post Exercise (CPX) during which participants put into practice their managerial skills.
The idea behind the course was to merge academic and practical experiences. For this purpose different lecturers took the floor: experts from the top planning bodies of the European Union, such as the Committee for Civilian Aspects of Crisis Management (CIVCOM), the Crisis Management Planning Directorate (CMPD) and the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) as well as former Heads of Mission, academics and police trainers. In this way the most relevant topics were discussed and presented from different perspectives. Participants took part actively in the discussions, contributing and creating an active and stimulating environment.
The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the European Union is proof that this is indeed the best course of action.
As EU citizens, but even more so as police officers, we take great pride in the symbolic value of this recognition. In our capacity as guardians of law and order and protectors of the rights of the individual, we have always emphasized the role we play as peacekeepers in the fulfilment of our duties.
During the closing ceremony Rossanna Farina, head of the Italian CEPOL team, praised the course organization provided by COESPU, and by Colonel Renato Raggi who, in his capacity as course manager, has made the most of the wealth of talent and professionalism that this Centre and the various international and European organizations involved have to offer. She also emphasized that the course was attended by one woman, and reminded the United Nations Organization Resolution number 1325 about the increase of the female representation at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts and peace processes.