Elite Turkish Police Officers Studying at UT Dallas

10 Bring Unique Perspective to Public Affairs Doctoral Program

Jan. 17, 2008

They love rodeo but prefer Turkish cuisine to Tex-Mex.

But don’t ask them about walking the beat in Ankara, because these top cops have been destined for the highest ranks of the Turkish National Police (TNP) since they were teenagers.

Ten Turkish police officers, all with the rank of captain or major, are pursuing Ph.D.s in public affairs at The University of Texas at Dallas. They are an elite group, chosen from among 194,700 TNP personnel for advanced studies to lead the police force into the future.

Police Captain Zeki Pamuk, from the western Turkish city of Bursa, worked jointly with Interpol tracking identity thieves, financial fraud and illegal immigration. He is pursuing his doctorate in public affairs because he wants to specialize in crisis and disaster management.

“UT Dallas has a unique program in that it combines theory and practice,” said Pamuk. “The lecturers are not just talking theory. They give practical examples, and most of the other students are straight from the profession.”

What began as a trickle 10 years ago of Turkish police officers studying in the U.S. and European universities have grown to more than 100 students studying abroad. The Turkish Institute for Police Studies at the University of North Texas draws many of them first, then they spread out to 40 other universities. They study criminal justice and criminology, public administration, political science, global affairs, sociology and information science.

Doug Kiel, UT Dallas professor of public affairs and administration, says he would like to build on the relationship and bring more officers to study at the School for Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.

“It is a great privilege to have students from the Turkish national police in our Ph.D. program,” said Kiel. “They are not only fine students, but people of great character. They also provide a different perspective that helps us avoid the tendency of falling into a U.S. centric view of public affairs.”

The students say that as Turkey prepares to join the European Union, its national police force is undergoing a major re-organization. While Turkish police officers are very well trained to fight crime and terrorism, the organization itself is overly bureaucratic and heavily administrative. Turkey also is updating its criminal laws to align more with Europe’s system of justice.

In addition, these young officers see themselves as belonging to an international network forged from academic institutions and other police organizations, including NATO, Interpol and United Nations peacekeeping troops, with a mission of global security.

“We are all connected now, and we have to adapt to these changes,” said Police Capt. Yasin Kose. For his doctoral studies, he surveyed more than 800 junior Turkish police officers to understand what motivates them and submitted his findings in a paper accepted by the prestigious journal Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Ilker Pekgozlu chose for his doctoral dissertation to study organizational changes among TNP’s leaders, knowing that someday he might be one of them.

“I would like to serve the TNP by working on information technology systems,” said Pekgozlu. “Cyber crimes tend to be one of the important challenges in Turkey.”

Most of them have at least two more years left to finish their degrees before returning to Turkey. In the meantime, they study hard, travel around the U.S. as much as time allows and socialize largely with one another and their families who have accompanied them to Texas. And despite their years of training and experience, even they fall prey to the same popular fascination with the Hollywood crime genre.

“We like to watch CSI Las Vegas like everybody else,” said Pamuk.


Media contact: Meredith Dickenson, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2293, y@utdallas.edu

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Turkish law enforcement officers
The Turkish students say their national police force is undergoing extensive re-organization.

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