Eric Scheye discusses his experiences working on police reform programs around the world with the United Nations and as an independent consultant. He begins by discussing the tensions inherent in donor-funded reform programs. As there is often a rush to implement police reform programs, he notes, they are not necessarily tailored to local contexts and circumstances. Scheye goes on to talk about challenges in effective police recruitment and vetting processes, including in Bosnia and Timor-Leste where political maneuvering and ethnic divisions were considerations in developing new police leadership structures. He argues that in order to build long-term accountability, internal reform efforts should take precedence over external accountability mechanisms. Further, in order to retain officers, police training, states Scheye, should be embedded in a management-training program with appropriate incentives. He notes that evaluating a reform program can be challenging and requires political astuteness and listening as much as numbers. Finally, Scheye discusses the provision of policing services in Yemen and Sudan by non-state actors such as customary chiefs. Given that customary chiefs have high levels of legitimacy and wield justice in areas where state police services tend to be limited, Scheye suggests that donors consider new approaches to constructively engaging with non-state actors.
At the time of this interview, Eric Scheye was an independent consultant in justice and security sector development and conflict management. Prior to becoming a consultant, he worked with the United Nations Mission in Bosnia, where he specialized in policing and police development, as well as with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping and the United Nations Development Programme in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Timor-Leste, Honduras, Kosovo and Serbia. Scheye also worked for two and a half years on a U.K.-sponsored integrated justice program in Yemen, where he helped develop a justice and policing program. He has conducted assessments of non-state/local justice and security networks in southern Sudan for the U.S. and U.K., and has had consultancy assignments around the world on behalf of research institutes, non-governmental organizations, the U.N. and government agencies.