HomeNewsAnalysisCan Community Policing Cut Violence in Honduras?
ANALYSIS

Can Community Policing Cut Violence in Honduras?

HONDURAS / 26 SEP 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

Community policing programs in Honduras are beginning to show results, with violence rates decreasing in some areas where they have been put in place, though judicial reform will also be necessary to cut the country’s high rate of crime.

The Tegucigalpa neighbourhood of La Joya received its first community police unit in September 2011, as El Heraldo reported.

One year on from the inauguration, the project appears to be delivering results. According to a new report by InforSurHoy, crime rates have dropped across the board, and Inspector Sandra Cabrera, who heads the La Joya community police unit, told the news source that the turn-around was immediate. “Last year there were more than 20 armed assaults, three murders and the constant presence of extortionists,” while in 2012 there have been no murders or extortions and only three armed assaults reported, she said.

The results have been replicated in other parts of Tegucigalpa where community police operations have been put in place. In January, a unit began working in the neighbourhood of Flor del Campo, which InfoSurHoy refers to as “one of the most dangerous settlements in the Honduran capital.” Since then, only three homicides have been reported, compared to 32 last year.

The community policing project, which has been in development since 2008 and has support from the Brazilian government, is not confined to the capital. Currently, there are 250 community police officers working with some 50,000 volunteers throughout the country to offer cultural events for communities, organize safety committees and develop drug and gang prevention initiatives, InfoSurHoy states.

Milton Funez, deputy inspector of the Flor del Campo unit, told InfoSurHoy, “By becoming closer to the people we are reversing the bad image the National Police had, and we are also showing our peers we can work for a better country.”

InSight Crime Analysis

Similar community policing initiatives have been implemented in other parts of the region. The most famous of these is Rio de Janeiro’s “pacification” program, launched in 2008, which has seen some of the city’s favelas receive community-focused police pacification units (UPPs). These are meant to install a permanent police presence in areas that have been abandoned by the state, rather than just conducting police raids against gangs operating in the areas. A study funded by the CAF development bank, released in July, found that the UPPs had reduced violence in the neighborhoods where they have been installed.

Guatemala has had a US-funded “model precinct” program in place in parts of the country since 2004, which focuses on preventative policing, and training officers to strengthen their ties with the community. In a recent report, International Crisis Group said that these programs had the potential to improve policing, though it remained to be seen if they could be replicated across the country, or if they would remain what one Guatemalan official called “archipelagos of competence in a sea of corruption.” Crisis Group reported that there had been success in the scheme in Mixco municipality which neighbors the capital, though results have been more mixed in Villa Nueva, to the south.

However, despite the early signs of success in Honduras, the community police units must still work in conjunction with the National Police, and indirectly with the judicial system, both of which are notoriously corrupt. Impunity hovers around 90 percent in the country, and some elements in the police force are known to work with criminal gangs.

There is a limit to how much community policing can do to prevent crime, given that Honduras remains a primary transit point for US-bound cocaine and has a strong presence of Central America’s “mara” gangs. Efforts to tackle corruption in the police and judiciary must therefore be made a priority, as well as community policing initiatives.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 9 APR 2016

Honduras is currently one of the most violent countries on the planet that is not at war. The violence is…

COLOMBIA / 9 FEB 2018

A new analysis suggests the US congress is poised to push back against President Donald Trump’s proposals for massive cuts…

EL SALVADOR / 1 JUL 2015

Statistics suggest that the Northern Triangle -- El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras -- constitutes the world's epicenter for extortion, illustrating…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…