HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Community Police Force: A Sign of What Is to Come?
BRIEF

El Salvador Community Police Force: A Sign of What Is to Come?

BARRIO 18 / 12 AUG 2014 BY CAMILO MEJIA GIRALDO EN

El Salvador's president has launched a community police force in capital San Salvador, a move that is in line with regional calls for alternative citizen security measures that could be an indication of the new government's still vague security strategy.

President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, National Police Chief Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde and Security Minister Benito Lara announced the deployment of the new force on August 11. According to El Salvador's Security Ministry, patrols will be deployed in the seven zones and 42 sectors that make up San Salvador.

The force will coordinate with local communities in order to identify security problems and risk factors and determine appropriate actions to address them. According to EFE, 21,000 police have so far received training for the scheme.

The community police will be progressively deployed in the greater San Salvador area before being rolled out in the rest of the country, reported the Associated Press.

The policy is not new, but part of a program launched under the previous administration of Mauricio Funes. In the coming days, the government is expected to present its own security strategy in the form of a "National Policy on Justice, Public Safety and Violence 2014-2019," aimed at addressing crime and security issues, with a particular focus on murders and extortion.

InSight Crime Analysis

El Salvador is among the most violent countries in the world, with the country's mara street gangs -- the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and the Barrio 18 -- key protagonists in citizen insecurity. While a truce signed between the two gangs in March 2012 led to a sharp initial drop in homicides, murders have now risen back to pre-truce levels as the initiative has slowly crumbled. Extortion, displacement and disappearances also continue to be major problems. 

SEE ALSO: MS13 Profile

The implementation of a community policing model may be a positive step towards finding a long-term, comprehensive solution to the gang problem. It stands in contrast to the "iron fist" -- or "mano dura" -- security policies that have often been used in the past to deal with gangs in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. These measures have proved ineffective and even harmful, providing gangs with a ready supply of imprisoned youth for recruitment. 

Community policing has had success in other parts of Latin America. Nicaragua is perhaps the best-known example, with the government attributing low levels of violent crime and the absence of powerful street gangs to its security model. Honduras also saw a decrease in violence in certain Tegucigalpa neighborhoods after implementing a similar program.

El Salvador's new force could be an indication that the new government plans to place a focus on alternative citizen security measures. However, sources told InSight Crime that the Sanchez Ceren government's overall security strategy remains unclear. 

administration 
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

DRUG POLICY / 15 NOV 2018

Leading academics, researchers, and journalists dedicated to the study of organized crime around the world convened November 15 in Bogotá, Colombia,…

BARRIO 18 / 23 MAR 2012

Representatives of the rival MS-13 and Barrio-18 gangs in El Salvador have confirmed the existence of a truce between them,…

BRAZIL / 5 FEB 2018

Top security officials in Brazil and Mexico are questioning traditional strategies towards combating organized crime, but it’s unlikely that…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…

THE ORGANIZATION

Tracking Dirty Money and Tren de Aragua

29 OCT 2021

InSight Crime was delighted to support investigative reporting in the Americas through a workshop with our friends at Connectas, a non-profit journalism initiative that facilitates collaboration…