Mérida, June 3rd 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s national homicide rate dropped by 18.24% over the past three months during a nationally coordinated anti-crime plan, Vice Minister for Police Edgar Barrientos announced on Wednesday.
“We can re-affirm that with the actions that we are developing, the tendency indicates that we are going to maintain and fulfill the goal of diminishing the homicide rate by 20-40% within three years,” said Barrientos. “This year, the reduction in murders could reach 20%,” he said.
The homicide rate decreased by 11% over the first five months of this year compared to the first five months of 2009, Barrientos added.
The plan, called Bicentenary Security Deployment, began on March 1st and took effect in the 36 municipalities with the highest homicide rates. It included criminal investigation, controls on alcohol sales, disarmament, a crack down on small-scale drug trafficking, and increased patrols on highways, in schools, and in communities.
The plan was a joint operation among the Bolivarian National Police, which was created last year and began operating this year, in coordination with the national Criminal, Scientific, and Penal Investigative Agency (CICPC), the National Guard, and state and local police forces.
The Bolivarian National Police will soon release its plan to secure 47 metro stations in the capital city, Caracas, according to Police Commissioner Luis Fernandez, who was appointed by President Hugo Chavez last year to direct the new force.
Homicides in Venezuela rose from 5,974 in 1999, the year President Hugo Chavez took office, to more than 12,000 in 2009, and the number of homicides per 10,000 persons grew by 300%, according to government and private media sources.
To reverse this trend and reduce police corruption, the government formed a National Police Reform Commission that conducted a nation-wide consultation process during which 700,000 representatives from local communities, police forces, and governments met in community-based assemblies in 2006 to form the principles in the code of conduct and the national law regarding the Bolivarian National Police.
A government commission to create the National Experimental University for Security to provide a higher education degree for aspiring police officers was appointed by the Internal Affairs and Justice ministry last year.
The university will initiate classes with an incoming class of 3,000 this coming October, according to Soraya El Achkar, a member of the National Police Reform Commission and coordinator at the human rights organization Support Network for Peace and Justice.