Mérida, August 19th, 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - In recent weeks, Venezuela's Ministry for Justice and Internal Affairs began nation-wide trainings of communal police, finalized plans for local drug prevention educator schools, and formed its fifth regional commission to oversee the creation of a national police force and a national university for police education.
At an event to inaugurate the training of communal police in the states of Aragua, Barinas, Zulia, and Táchira, Minister Tarek El Aissami spoke of the preventive character of the communal police, and the importance that they maintain a close connection with the community.
The communal police should have "a broad knowledge of the reality of the community in which they work, in order to articulate this to the diverse local institutions, with the goal that people know and identify with their police," said El Aissami.
Geographic location, population density, and the local crime rate are the main criteria by which the communal police squads will be organized, according to the minister. Also, the local community councils will be empowered to oversee the new police and denounce corruption and misconduct.
The communal police are being formed in tandem with a new national police force. Both forces are required by the National Police Law, which was passed last year following a two-year national consultation process that included hundreds of local and regional conferences in which police, communities, and government officials met and discussed the issues face to face.
Now, the Police System Commission (COMSIPOL) is developing manuals and standards of conduct for these new security bodies, and the National Police Council formed its fifth regional council last week to oversee the training and organization of the forces.
According to El Aissami, the National Police are scheduled to begin working in Caracas in December.
On Monday, El Aissami emphasized the gravity of the decades-old problem of police abuse and corruption. "Twenty percent of the crimes in Venezuela are committed by police officers," he said. "It is necessary for police officers to be conscientious, to leave aside the repressive and reactive behavior, in order to take on a fully preventive role."
To improve the quality of police education, the Ministry convoked a commission of professors and officials from Venezuela's public university system last month to create a national university for police training, which is also mandated in the National Police Law.
"Our Venezuelan police forces do not have academic instruction. Only 3.6 percent of the officers have studied [in higher education] and 70 percent do not have the procedural manual," said El Aissami on Monday.
At the local level, Community Drug Prevention Educator Schools will begin training an estimated 5000 local educators in all of Caracas's municipalities in early September, according to Nestor Reverol, the director of the National Anti-Drug Office. These schools will eventually be opened in all of Venezuela's 336 municipalities, in line with the National Anti-Drug Plan 2009 - 2013.