Wanted: Police Officers to Wear a Lighter Blue

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The Clinton administration doesn't want the U.S. to become the world's policeman. But it wouldn't mind having world cops. Floating around the White House is a proposal by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that would have the U.N. set up a standby force of several thousand policemen, who would rush into war-torn areas to keep law and order. Cops are scarce in countries recovering from civil war, but military units deployed as peacekeepers balk at doing police work. So the U.N. has to start from scratch each time, enlisting nations to contribute policemen. "Getting enough of them is always a problem," says a senior State Department official. For example, it has been seven months since the Kosovo war ended, but the U.N. has only about 2,000 of the 4,700 policemen it needs there. The fighting in East Timor ended four months ago, but only 330 of the 1,640 cops requested by the U.N. have shown up. Albright wants nations to promise police officers ahead of time. They would then be on call to hit the beat immediately.