SOCIETY

Massachusetts Is Training Former Guantanamo Guards To Be Police

SOCIETY
Jan 21, 2015 at 11:11 AM ET

Last night, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to closing Guantanamo Bay during his State of the Union address, but the Worcester Police Department in Massachusetts has already got a jump on helping military police transition into new civilian careers—by training them to become local police officers.

A week ago, 35 Massachusetts National Guardsmen—who all previously worked as guards at the prison in Guantanamo Bay—began an expedited 16-week course (normally 35 weeks) taught by Worcester Police Sgt. Richard Cipro to receive their law enforcement certifications. The police academy training program costs $2,500 and will cover topics including ethics, conflict resolution and how to complete police reports. Student Ryan Cunningham, an Air Force sergeant, told a local newspaper that the municipal reports are more detailed than he’s used to; another student called the pilot program “life-changing.”

Comments on police forums cite how expensive it can be to transition from military to civilian policing, and one suggests that some police departments look at military police unfavorably because there are “so many bad habits to break.” But Cipro highlights how the program can ultimately save municipalities money since the recruits will be ready to work immediately.

Still, timing’s not so great for the Worcester PD. Yesterday Mohamedou Ould Slahi, one of Guantanamo Bay’s longest-held detainees, saw the release of his book, Guantanamo Diary, which details his life and incarceration in the infamous detention center, where he is still being held after being turned over to U.S. authorities following the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Written in 2005, three years after Slahi’s arrival at Guantanamo, the diary recounts the abuse and torture he suffered at the hands of his captors, including beatings, sexual molestation, and deprivation of food, water and sleep. The New York Times reports that the U.S. military tried to block its release, but was compelled to submit a redacted version after Slahi’s lawyers intervened.

Slahi’s claims are echoed by another recently released book, Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantanamo Bay, by Joseph Hickman. In it, Hickman writes that three detainees who the Pentagon claimed committed suicide in 2006 were actually murdered by the CIA.