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.

share icon icon icon

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

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

COLOMBIA / 2 NOV 2015

According to Colombia's government, the laundering of profits from drug trafficking and common crime accounted for two percent of the…

AUC / 11 MAR 2011

Paramilitary commanders have said that the demobilization of some elements of the AUC was faked, with the blessing of government…

COLOMBIA / 18 SEP 2016

The contrast between the FARC’s 10th Conference and the last peace process in this same place 16 years ago could…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…