On February 17, 1996, Class 9 of police cadets graduated from the National Police Academy in Port-au-Prince, bringing to a close the first phase of the intensive U.S. -sponsored training program with a total of 5,201 police trained for the Haitian National Police (HNP). The average level of experience in the force is under two months, and police men and women are deployed into harsh conditions, frequently without leadership or with poor quality leadership. In late January the force was operating with only 26 of 185 mid-to-senior HNP field commanders in place. A similar vacuum exists at lower levels. Disturbingly, since July 1995, the HNP have been responsible for at least 19 killings, scores of injuries, and other abuses of authority. If these problems are not promptly confronted, they could seriously weaken the effort to consolidate democracy in Haiti.
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