The Inter-American Community of Crime Observatories of the Organization of American States (OAS) held its first Virtual Dialogue of 2023. It was attended by 229 guests from countries that make up the OAS, who focused on the work of these entities to guide action through the understanding and analysis of criminal realities.
“If the agencies that make up the justice and security system act without adequate prior observation, their operation can be deficient; hence the importance of the observatories,” Arturo Huaytalla, coordinator of the National Observatory of Criminal Policy (INDAGA) of Peru’s Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, told Diálogo on April 28. “Our countries share the need to strengthen information gathering and for that data to reach the teams of the forces that must take action in a timely manner.”
The March 30 meeting shed light on the critical work the observatories carry out and allowed participants to reassess their role in data collection and analysis to better understand and tackle criminal threats in the region.
The Inter-American Community of Crime Observatories brings together crime and security observatories and analysis centers from the region to exchange methodologies and analytical techniques. It also aims to contribute to the pooling of experiences and the strengthening of observatories through the transfer of knowledge.
The Community studies crime, violence, and insecurity in the region in order to contribute to combating these scourges.
On that occasion, the community welcomed two new members: the Observatory of Security and Crime of the Higher Academy of Police Studies of Chile’s Investigative Police, and Peru’s INDAGA.
Both institutions presented their raison d’être, their structure, organization, and key processes. They also presented the methodology used for data collection and analysis, the impact of their work, as well as lessons learned, best practices, and the main challenges they face.
This information is useful for the creation of law projects, the actions of prosecutors’ offices, or the preparation of maps on criminal phenomena, among other uses.
“The observatories experienced two waves of creation: The first concentrated geographically in Colombia, with a boom during the second part of the 1990s, and a second wave in the 2000s, which spread regionally,” Karen Bozicovich, chief of the Information and Knowledge Section of the OAS Department of Public Security, told Diálogo. “In this new decade, we must resume the work with the region’s observatories, and identify who is still standing and who emerged after those two waves of creation.”
“One of the main lessons learned and good practices identified by the observatories was the importance of creating and maintaining multidisciplinary technical teams,” added Bozicovich. “Among the challenges mentioned was the need to establish constant feedback mechanisms between those who generate the data and use the analyses, particularly at the local management level, and of course the observatories.”
“The role of the OAS is fundamental in bringing together the different observatories and getting to know each other, as it is key to improving the capabilities of crime analysis teams, which in turn improves decision-making in the justice and security systems of our countries,” Huaycalla concluded. “Here we build dialogue processes, strengthen crime analysis teams, and make contacts, which allow us to generate better results in what we develop.”