Sgt. Phil Sinclair is back home after a one-year international police peace operation in Iraq.
Based in Baghdad, the 13 Division officer was a mentor/trainer for Iraqi Police as the war-torn country seeks to transition from military to police control.
Through the International Police Peacekeeping and Peace Operations program, police officers from across Canada support efforts to build a more secure world through peace operations and other stabilization efforts.
Sinclair was among eight Canadian police members that combined with Italian, Czech, Swedish and Slovakian officers to deliver training courses on community-based policing to enable the Iraqis to engage all segments of the communities they serve, including women and children.
The international police officers alsosupported efforts to help re-establish a local police presence in newly liberated areas, establish greater capabilities, and provide strategic advice to Iraqi police on issues related to gender, diversity and human rights within their communities.
There are approximately 600,000 Iraqi police officers, of whom 10,000 to 12,000 are women.
The Iraqi officers, said Sinclair, were very receptive to the training.
“We also provided them with some military courses, including checkpoint operations and patrolling,” he said. “They have got to know you as a person and once that happens, they are willing to accept you. No matter how much of an expert you are, you have to be able to create some kind of bond with them. The other thing is they have a huge respect for Canadians and that helps.”
For the duration of their tour of duty, Sinclair and the other officers were restricted to the police academy where they conducted the training.
“There wasn’t much to do when you are not working,” he pointed out. “You would go to the gym and socialize with the other police officers. We weren’t allowed to step outside the camp so we weren’t at risk of being attacked.”
Sinclair said Iraq provided a rare opportunity to teach and see another part of the world.
“You watch the news and you hear and see things,” he said. “You never know until you experience it. It’s another part of the world and you get to learn and see new things.”
This is the second time that Sinclair has been on an international peace mission.
In 2010-11, he spent nine months in Afghanistan training and mentoring police officers at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar.
“This was similar to what I did in Iraq with the only difference being that I was mobile in Afghanistan, going to various police stations to conduct the training,” he noted. “It was much more operational and high risk as we were outside the camp working in a combat environment.”
Sinclair pointed out that the Afghan mission inspired him to go to Iraq.
“It is something so much bigger than you,” he said. “Once you get a taste of it, you want to do it again. I figured if I could manage to train Afghan police, then I had the ability to do it elsewhere.”
Sinclair said he would consider doing a third mission.
“I need some time to rest now, but if I get another opportunity in the future, I think I will do it again.”
A Service member for the last 18 years, Sinclair worked with Traffic Services and at 31 Division before being assigned to 13 Division. He was promoted in 2016.