President Luis Abinader surprised the nation by announcing new measures for enacting Police reform during a press conference on Sunday, 17 October 2021. The Dominican Police has 38,281 active members, including 32 generals, 633 colonels and 752 lieutenant colonels.
President Abinader told the Dominican people that Police reform will take time, “but we need to see results now.” “We are going from a planning stage to taking concrete actions,” said the President upon making the announcement.
He is acting on recommendations made by a high-level committee that benchmarked police reform with successful worldwide experiences to adapt and incorporate best global practices here. He said that the country is working closely with Police experts from Colombia and Spain.
The President said the first steps to implement Police reform are:
For the next 18 months, all members of the Police will be subject to assessments. The evaluations will start with the top brass and move down. An international firm of renowned global experience will assist in the evaluations, so these are carried out “by the book” with the supervision of advisors from the police in Spain and Colombia. He said the raises will now be based on performance. In the past, who you knew made a big difference. The President told the press that those that are not fit to continue will be removed. President Abinader said during the press conference: “It is worse to keep them inside the force.”
A committee is named to assess the finances and management of the 2022 budget of the Police and make recommendations that would give priority to use of funds for improvements in the quality of service, transformation and quality of living of the police force. Dominican businesswoman Elena Viyella will supervise this effort for the Dominican government. The specialized committee will be making recommendations for the administrative and financial restructuring of the budget allocated to the National Police for the year 2022.
The National Police is being audited by the Chamber of Accounts. The Police will need to act on the audit findings. The Police had not been audited in the past and operated autonomously.
Within the next 30 days, the rulings ordered by Police Reform Organic Law 590-16 will finally be passed. The Superior Council of the Police and the Legal Advisor of the Presidency are revising these rulings. The rulings should have been passed in 2016 when the new Police law was enacted. The rulings cover subjects such as use of force and the use of firearms by off-duty police, assessments, decorations, uniforms, reserve funds, among other topics. President Abinader will pass the regulations by decree.
Restructuring of the Institute of Police Education (IPE) ordered by Law 590-16. New recruits will now undergo a year of training, instead of the present practice that sent police to the streets with only two-months training. Former UASD rector, Roberto Santana will lead this new police educational model that will train new recruits and retrain others using where needed facilities at the state university (UASD) regional centers especially in the East, South and North regions. The intention is to raise the level of professionalization of all police officers.
Use of new technology. Body cameras, anti-bullet vests will be ordered as standard equipment for Police patrols. The government has already made available an app open to all to post complaints and cases, and a statistical platform is being made available. Police patrols will be fitted with technology for the taping of what happens inside and outside the vehicles. The cars will also now operate under a GPS tracking system. The 911 Emergency System is ordered to deliver 500 patrol car kits, for the monitoring in real time of police performance.
Before the President spoke, the coordinator of the Police Reform Committee, Sergio Tulio Castaños Guzmán expressed his optimism that for the first time there was the political will to make the desired changes in the Police. He said the changes that are being made all follow the law. “What has to be done is implement the law,” he said.
18 October 2021