Latin American police must be proactive: Gen. Oscar Naranjo

By Dialogo
September 27, 2013

Latin American national police must take a proactive approach to preventing crime, rather than reacting to it, Gen. Oscar Naranjo, the former director of Colombia’s National Police, said during a recent safety seminar.

Naranjo, who is currently a security adviser to the Mexican government, spoke about the need for proactive law enforcement during a seminar at the College of Mexico (Colmex) on Sept. 11, 2013. He spoke during the “Seminar on Violence in Mexico.”

Safety is a “democratic value” which should be treated as a “right and a responsibility,” Naranjo said during his talk. Criminology should take precedence over other social sciences when it comes to understanding the root causes of crime, he said.

Multiple law enforcement responsibilities

Focusing large amounts of time and energy on fighting drug trafficking affects the ability of police agents to focus on other threats, said another seminar panelist, Monica Serrano, an organized crime analyst at Colmex.

“It seems that the impact drug trafficking has had on the security policies in the region is closing a window of opportunity to deal with other no less important threats,” Serrano said.

Many organized crime groups engage in multiple illegal enterprises apart from drug smuggling, such as human trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, extortion, and large-scale oil theft.

Analysis is crucial

Security officials should evaluate approaches which work and those which do not when developing strategies to fight crime, said Raul Benitez Manaut, a security analyst at the Collective for the Analysis of Security with Democracy (CASEDE). “

We must consider successes and failures in implementing policies of public safety,” Benitez Manaut said.

Security officials must be willing to adapt to changing circumstances, Naranjo said. For example, in the 1990s, some Central American countries were initially unprepared for an increase in violent gang activity, he said. Many of these gangs collaborated on drug smuggling enterprises with transnational criminal organizations, such as Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, which is led by fugitive kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

During the last 10 years or so, several countries, such as Honduras, began using its military to perform domestic law enforcement work, fighting gangs and drug cartels, Naranjo pointed out.


In addition to training capable and honest security agents, governments should also evaluate the effectiveness and integrity of their judicial systems, Naranjo said. Those who break the law must know that the criminal justice system will hold them accountable.

“Until citizens see that there is there is a price to pay when committing crimes and that this price will go through the justice system, the rates of violence will not diminish significantly,” Naranjo said.

Security forces must maintain the highest levels of professionalism, Naranjo said.

“Whatever police model a Latin American country adopts, four police stigmas need to be combated: the arbitrary use of force, inefficiency, corruption, and the lack of solidarity.

“Police that do not resolve citizens’ problems and engage in any of these four failures end up being despised,” he said.

I think that in Mexico we need a especial soldiers, other systems and less corruption as Naranjo said, but What happen with the people who live in the combat area?
The people of some states are getting accustomed to have soldiers in their streets, parks, public squares etc. I think that one factor that the goverment has lost is the time . The people has lost the distance between soldiers who go to the war in other countries as heroes ,and the soldiers who sleep in their auditoriums, schools, because this is the reality. I want to know more about how the training academy for prepared officers works.