Robert Perito

Senior Program Officer
United States Institute of Peace
Focus Area(s)
Accountable Policing
Critical Tasks
Gordon Peake
Country of Reform
Washington, DC
United States
Date of Interview
Monday, November 19, 2007

Robert Perito, a senior program officer with the United States Institute of Peace, recounts his experiences in international police recruitment and training initiatives, including in Haiti, Kosovo, Bosnia and Timor-Leste.  He notes that while effective vetting in the post-conflict context is difficult, it is critical that there be systems to determine who can get into the police. Vetting should be seen as an ongoing process. He notes that in most cases police should be recruited as individuals rather than as entities, and he cautions that security problems are generally not solved simply by integrating militia or illegally armed groups into the official security force. Perito goes on to discuss lessons learned from police training programs in Kosovo and Haiti. This includes the need to adapt training programs to the local context, needs, and skill capacity, in addition to the importance of integrating field-based training with in-class basic skills training. He states that it is imperative to build the capacity of the government structures tasked with effectively managing, supporting and administering the new police force. Training new recruits in mass, he argues, is not effective if the body that governs them is corrupt and lacks necessary capacity. Finally, he notes that while community policing can have a role in police reform, it should not necessarily come at the expense of critical police training. 

Case Studies:  Building the Police Service in a Security Vacuum: International Efforts in Kosovo, 1999-2011 and Building Civilian Police Capacity: Post-Conflict Liberia, 2003-2011

Full Interview

57 MB
Robert Perito - Full Interview
At the time of this interview, Robert M. Perito directed the United States Institute of Peace's Security Sector Governance Initiative under the Centers of Innovation. He also was a senior program officer in the Center for Post-Conflict Peace and Stability Operations, where he directed the Haiti and the Peacekeeping Lessons Learned projects. Perito came to USIP in 2001 as a senior fellow in the Jennings Randolph Fellowship program.  Before joining USIP, he served as deputy director of the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program at the U.S. Department of Justice. In that role, he was responsible for providing policy guidance and program direction for U.S. police programs in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Timor-Leste. Perito previously was a career foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State, retiring with the rank of minister counselor.  Perito became involved in international police reform in 1993 when, following the so-called Blackhawk Down incident in Somalia, he worked on the creation of a new Somali police training program. Following U.S. intervention in Haiti in 1994, he led an effort to create a police training program in support of a viable Haitian National Police. Perito taught at Princeton, American, and George Mason universities and earned a master’s in peace operations policy from George Mason.
local police training
pre-deployment training
integration and amalgamation
Reform sequencing
external accountability
Not specified