Doug Coates, the director of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police International Peace Operations program, recounts his experiences and lessons learned in building effective international and indigenous policing capacity. Drawing on his experiences in Haiti from 1993 to 1995, where he served as a regional commander with the United Nations Mission to Haiti, Coates describes the challenges associated with the effective vetting, recruitment, and training of police services. He notes that training and professionalizing local and national police forces, particularly in a country without a strong foundation in formal policing, necessitates taking into account the local context and community needs. Coates also discusses the current efforts of the RCMP to develop a more rigorous predeployment international police-training program. He stresses that support for police participation in international peace operations requires recognition of the fundamental linkages between domestic and international security concerns. He argues that the international community “has to invest and invest for the long term” to strengthen police services to deal “with the challenges associated to maintaining law and order in the 21st century.”
Doug Coates began his involvement in international policing in 1993 as a member of the United Nations advance team to the U.N. Mission to Haiti. He then served as a regional commander in Haiti’s Grand'Anse region, where he was responsible for the development of policing services, training of the (at that time) interim security force, and maintenance of law and order throughout the region. From 1996 to 2001, Coates managed the peacekeeping department of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including the management of a mission in Haiti and the deployment of Canadian police to peacekeeping operations around the world. He then served as the director of police programs and as chief operating officer to the Pearson Peacekeeping Center, a private, nongovernmental organization based in Ottawa; in that capacity, he was involved in the development and implementation of military police and civilian programming. At the time of the interview, Coates served as the director of the RCMP’s International Peace Operations program. His international experience in international policing included Haiti, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu; he also worked on police capacity-building programs in Africa. Coates died in the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, where he was serving as the acting police commissioner for the U.N. Stabilization Mission.