Venezuela’s National Bolivarian Police (PNB) has registered significant decreases in crime during its first 6 months of operations, the director of the new security body, Luis Fernandez, reported last week.
Speaking to the National Assembly, Fernandez presented data to the members of the lawmaking body which evidences the progress that the PNB has made in improving security for the country’s residents.
According to the numbers, murder has been reduced by 60%, robberies are down by nearly 59%, and gender-based violence has been diminished by 66% in the residential areas where the PNB has been active in and around the capital of Caracas.
In the neighborhood of Catia, a particularly rough area, the progress has been notable.
“The murder rate when we started in the neighborhood of Catia was at 50 for every 100,000 residents,” explained Fernandez. “Today, after 6 months, we have a murder rate of 18 per 100,000 residents. That’s to say, a very important reduction. When we make the comparison with the average murder rate in the Americas according to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights… we can see that the average rate is 25.6 per 100,000. We are not claiming victory yet… but we have a clear vision to turn things around.”
Fight against drugs
In terms of drugs, the police force has made a concerted effort to fight against micro-trafficking, seizing 14,500 doses of illicit substances destined for youth in the neighborhood.
Created in 2009 with the intention of sharpening the fight against crime in Venezuela, The National Bolivarian Police (PNB) represents one of the Chavez government’s most concrete policy initiatives aimed at improving security for the nation.
The force is the product of the National Commission on Police Reform which was launched in 2006 and has resulted in the re-modeling of law enforcement in in the country, placing more emphasis on human rights.
Before entering the force, officers selected for the PNB undergo a thorough training process.
“Our men and women pass through a rigorous evaluation filter carried out by professionals well-versed in security matters,”Fernandez said.
To carry out this training, the National Experimental Police University has been created, providing cadets with essential intellectual and ethical preparation.
Last Tuesday, 1,400 new officers joined the ranks of the PNB, adding to the 950 already on the streets. Another 1,368 cadets are in training.
According to Fernandez, one of the highlights of the PNB’s security strategy has been community engagement. The force has been working in conjunction with 110 community councils – grassroots community organizations – carrying out 492 training workshops that have incorporated children and adolescents.
“We are creating a police force that respects human rights and that ceases to be an elitist organization as was before,” Fernandez said.
There are additional plans for the new police force to increase its presence in Caracas’ metro in September with the introduction of 974 officers in different subway stations.
“We are sure that this plan is going to put to rest the worries that users might have over the metro facilities,” Fernandez informed the National Assembly.
Highway security improvements is also in the works in and around the nation’s capital with some 800 officers to be deployed on major thoroughfares.