Spotlight on Police Reform; Vice President compares problems to cancer eating at the institution

Interior & Police Minister Jesus (Chú) Vasquez says that the recommendations made by the working group and international advisors will begin to be implemented to initiate gradual improvements in the National Police. Police reform has become a top priority, especially after confusing incidents have made crime front page in the media and trending topic in social media

“The ills affecting the National Police have become a cancer that has caused the citizenry to lose confidence in the institution,” said Vice President Raquel Peña in her remarks during the closing ceremony of the International Seminar for the Exchange of Experiences in the Field of Police Reform. The event took place last week at the Ministry of Foreign Relations convention center.

Peña said the task ahead is not easy. But she insisted the Dominican government is undertaking actions to achieve the transformation of the institution.

“Do not be afraid, it is the will of President Abinader to do everything that has to be done… We are not afraid to achieve the transformation of the National Police,” said Vice President Peña.

“We must find the definitive solution to this evil that has become a cancer… we must find a quick way out to restore the lost confidence,” said the Vice President. A UN report says that seven out of every 10 Dominicans distrusts the Police.

In his participation in the international seminar on police reform, President Abinader stated there would be salary readjustments for police agents in the same proportion as those applied in 2021. There would be a doubling of staff with new members would be properly trained, and the current ones well purged. He said the government would invest in the purchase of vehicles and technology for the Police with a new software for complaints and one for statistics.

The President stressed his government could not afford to fail in this attempt to structurally transform the Police.

Abinader said that the government and Dominican society must make a mea culpa with the National Police. Throughout its history, there has been a lack of budget, equipment, and managerial support.

In this regard, the Minister of Interior and Police, Jesús Vázquez, also speaking at the event, assured that the transformation of the National Police is happening at a good pace, with good planning and using the most appropriate technical criteria.

As part of the actions, the Presidency announced the placing into retirement of seven police generals with enjoyment of pensions (Decree 594-21). In recent weeks the government has retired two dozens of generals.

Servio Tulio Castaños Guzmán, coordinator of the Working Group for the Transformation and Professionalization of the National Police, says the consultations will conclude in 30 days. The committee has been learning from the experiences of other countries, such as Spain and Colombia, in reforming their police forces. He said the United Nations report on the Dominican police has identified that the main problems here are recruitment, training and lack of assessment of the performance of the police, to determine who stays on the force.

Castaños Guzmán, who is directing the high-level committee that is making the recommendations for police reform actions, said this week during an interview on the “El Gobierno de la Mañana” morning radio talk show that the results of an audit by the Chamber of Accounts of this institution will be released next week. He said the main objective of the audit is to verify whether the institutional mechanisms have been working.

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12 October 2021