HomeNewsBriefColombia’s New Police Chief Discusses Security Priorities
BRIEF

Colombia’s New Police Chief Discusses Security Priorities

COLOMBIA / 3 MAR 2016 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Following a damaging sex scandal, Colombia’s new police chief is attempting to restore his institution’s image while also reducing crime, although the latter task may prove more complex as a new chapter in Colombian drug trafficking approaches.

In a recent interview with Semana magazine, General Jorge Hernando Nieto, Colombia’s National Police director, discussed a range of challenges facing his institution and plans for combating crime and insecurity.

Nieto was appointed police director on February 17 amidst an institutional crisis. His predecessor, Rodolfo Palomino, resigned following allegations he was involved in a prostitution ring within the police ranks that serviced high-ranking officers and members of Congress.

Acknowledging the recent scandal, and the damage it has caused to the generally positive perception of Colombian police, Nieto told Semana that steps were being taken to combat corruption within the force and restore police credibility.

Nonetheless, Nieto admitted there would be further challenges moving forward.

For one, the police budget is set to be cut by approximately $18.7 million, a figure that Nieto said could increase. Fewer resources may complicate police efforts to reduce crime and heightened public perceptions of insecurity in cities like Cali and Barranquilla. 

A particularly important focus for police, Nieto told Semana, will be to identify and dismantle the criminal networks involved in microtrafficking. Nieto said he does not think Colombia is home to any large, vertically integrated drug trafficking groups, but added that there are a number of independent criminal structures operating throughout the country.

Nieto also said police officials have developed a strategic vision for their institution’s role in security operations should the government sign a peace agreement with left-wing guerrilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC). According to the police chief, this strategy is part of a plan called “Safe and Peaceful Communities,” which is divided into four categories: rural-focused work, citizen security, the strengthening of criminal investigation, and international cooperation.

InSight Crime Analysis

Nieto seems intent on restoring some of the credibility that the National Police lost following the embarrassing scandal of his predecessor. He takes over at a pivotal moment in Colombian history, and faces a difficult task.

The steep drop in oil prices has eaten into government revenues, and the budget cuts will make it difficult for the police to confront one of the principal threats to citizen security discussed by Nieto: microtrafficking. Just last week, authorities blamed an increase in homicides so far this year in Cali on increasing competition between local groups for control of the city’s drug trade. 

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

Meanwhile, a FARC peace deal would likely significantly alter Colombia’s criminal landscape, given the rebel group’s deep involvement in cocaine production, which could present new challenges for Nieto’s police force. While Nieto is correct that no single criminal organization controls Colombia’s drug trade, a range of regional criminal actors, including the Urabeños and the Popular Liberation Army (Ejército Popular de Liberación – EPL), may move to fill the vacuum left by a demobilized FARC.

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.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America's largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

HONDURAS / 31 AUG 2012

Honduras' Congress is set to approve a bill to establish a new elite military police unit to fight organized crime,…

GUATEMALA / 26 MAR 2014

A new report from a US researcher examines the performance of Guatemala's national police force, finding that despite a…

COLOMBIA / 7 DEC 2011

The prevailing wisdom is that Colombian traffickers have been eclipsed in Central America by the rise of their Mexican counterparts,…

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…