HomeNewsBriefCitizens Approve of El Salvador Police Despite Alleged Abuses
BRIEF

Citizens Approve of El Salvador Police Despite Alleged Abuses

EL SALVADOR / 1 SEP 2016 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

A recent public opinion poll demonstrates generally positive perceptions of police conduct in El Salvador, even as hard-line policies against gangs have led to concerns over official misconduct and human rights abuses.

The study, conducted by the social investigation unit of Salvadoran news outlet La Prensa Gráfica, found 54 percent of Salvadorans hold a positive opinion of the country’s National Civil Police (Policía Nacional Civil – PNC). In contrast, 21 percent of respondents judged the PNC’s performance to be poor or very poor.

The findings — the result of 1,200 interviews with citizens throughout the country — are similar to La Prensa Gráfica’s 2015 poll, which found 52 percent held positive opinions of the PNC while 22 percent had negative views.

The aspect of the PNC’s work citizens found most positive was “continuous patrols,” at 13 percent, followed by good job performance and protecting the community. Among the PNC’s characteristics citizens found most negative were: corruption, delayed response to emergencies and abuse of authority.

Overall, 37 percent of respondents felt corruption within the PNC was high or very high, while 32 percent considered it to be low or very low, La Prensa Gráfica found.

When asked if they had ever received direct assistance from the PNC, 20 percent of respondents said yes. Another 16 percent, however, reported suffering some form of abuse at the hands of the PNC, including physical or verbal mistreatment. This represented a 5 percent increase over 2015.  

InSight Crime Analysis

Over the last year, El Salvador has increasingly ramped up security crackdowns in response to escalated violence and gang activity. This has included deploying elite units consisting of both police and military to target and combat criminal structures throughout the country. Earlier this year, El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly reclassified the country’s gangs as terrorist organizations.

However, such heightened police activity, and the militarization of internal security, have given rise to human rights concerns. A number of instances have arisen where police are implicated in the extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles 

Nonetheless, the views of everyday Salvadorans often get lost among the frequent stories documenting police abuses in El Salvador and officers’ seemingly blatant disregard for human life. A reason tough “mano dura” (iron fist) anti-crime policies have been implemented by successive administrations in El Salvador — despite evidence suggesting their ineffectiveness over the long term — is their popularity.

It may be images of police anti-crime operations, including the mass roundup of suspects and imprisonment of alleged gang members, assuage citizens’ concerns about the precarious security situation, outweighing perceptions of police misconduct. Indeed, despite a string of cases involving police abusing their power over the past year, La Prensa Gráfica’s poll found positive perceptions of police increased during that period. 

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

SECURITY POLICY / 12 FEB 2014

January saw an accentuation of the progressive remilitarization of citizen security under the Maduro government, with military officers placed at the head…

EL SALVADOR / 3 MAR 2018

Mexico authorities have arrested an MS13 leader in Tijuana, disrupting another attempt by the gang to create a small international…

EL SALVADOR / 2 SEP 2016

Gang members have reportedly killed a high-ranking police officer for the first time in El Salvador, a reminder that the…

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…