Monday, May 26, 2014

Peru This Week: Peru’s police force works to improve citizen security

"Peru's Police Force works to improve Citizen Security"
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Peru This Week
May 26, 201
Originally published:

The Peruvian police have recently carried out several initiatives in order to better protect the Peruvian citizenry. Citizen insecurity is a major problem across the Andean country, and these upgrades will hopefully help curb a rising flow of violence before it spirals out of control, particularly in light of a major robbery committed on Friday May 16 in the city of Trujillo.
During a ceremony this past March, the Peruvian Ministry of Interior hailed the recent purchase of four brand new EC-145helicopters from global aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The aircraft now operate under the control of the Dirección de Aviación Policial (DIRAVPOL), the air branch of the Peruvian police.
Additionally, a March report by the renowned Spanish security-news agency documents the July 2013 opening of a helicopter repair hangar by DIRAVPOL for the purpose of properly maintaining its fleet. As Lima is a major metropolitan area with over eight million and a half residents, it is critically important for local law enforcement forces to have adequate aircrafts to provide air support. (The U.S. government, via its embassy in Lima, contributed financial support for this hangar and also donated a helicopter for training purposes). This news is a welcome development, as citizen insecurity is arguably Peru’s top security challenge given the drastic increase over the past years of robberies, extortion, kidnappings, and other types of violence.
In November 2013, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) published a report entitled “Regional Human Development Report 2013-2014 – Citizen Security with a Human Face: Evidence and Proposals for Latin America,” which paints a grim picture regarding citizen security in the region. Robbery is portrayed as a particularly difficult problem in Peru, with the UNDP report’s victim survey showing a 23.43% victimization rate in Peru. To put it another way, 6,888,000 Peruvians out of a total population of nearly 30 million report having been the victim of a robbery. On the other hand, the official incidence of robbery is 217 per 100,000 inhabitants, the equivalent of 64,701 incidents. The UNDP concluded that “under-reporting is a colossal problem in that more than 6 million incidents went unreported” (Regional Human Development Report 2013-2014, P. 3).
Under-reporting is certainly a troubling issue as some victims may choose not to report they suffered a crime for a variety of reasons, such as in law enforcement agencies or lack of means of contacting security agencies (additionally, crimes committed by Peruvian police officers themselves, such as corruption, is an ongoing problem).
A number of recent incidents highlight the importance of having a well-equipped police force. For example, this past Friday, May 16, five thieves robbed the supermarket Plaza Vea in Trujillo, a coastal city north of Lima. After subduing the store’s security guard, the thieves proceeded to rob the cashiers of around S/. 15 thousand (around US$5,300). At the time of writing, although the Peruvian police have announced that four of the five thieves have been identified, there have been no reported arrests.
Nevertheless, we would be remiss not to argue that the Peruvian police have been successful at improving security while also utilizing their new equipment. For example, in January a fisherman was rescued when he almost drowned at Totoritas beach (in the southern Cañete region). During the rescue, Peruvian police used one of the new EC-145 helicopters.
Moreover, in early May, a policeman was involved in a shootout against seven criminals who attempted to rob the passengers of a bus traveling from Lima to the northern city of Chimbote. The brave officer managed to stop the criminals in spite of been outmanned and suffering a gunshot wound in his leg.
Peru’s economic boom should co-exist with safe living conditions for its population. Hopefully, the helicopters and other new equipment acquired by the police force over the past year will contribute towards improving the safety of the citizens of the Andean country.

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