Venezuela’s National Police Undergoing ‘Crisis’

An internal report says Venezuela’s National Police is experiencing a “structural crisis” due to lack of resources and training, pinpointing issues that have fueled corruption and use of excessive force by officers.

The internal report, cited by El Nacional, states that the Bolivarian National Police (PNB) struggles to recruit and train new members, as well as retrain veteran police officers. The report — reportedly authored in November 2014 — also notes that authorities went for a seven-month period without paying police their salary. 

The Venezuelan government created the PNB in 2009 as part of a wider package of reforms, which included the doubling of police salaries to around $745 a month. The PNB was meant to replace other state and municipal police forces in the country, such as the Caracas city police, widely seen as corrupt and dysfunctional. 

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This report is particularly disappointing as the PNB was meant to be a better-trained, more humanist, and less militarized police force in Venezuela. If authorities are not training or paying PNB officers sufficiently, they are simply replacing one corrupt police force with another. 

Lack of proper training and pay will also continue to feed corruption with the PNB. Amid Venezuela’s ongoing economic instability, collaborating with criminal groups offers police an appealing opportunity to complement their income. In one notable case, several PNB officers were arrested earlier this year for involvement in kidnapping. 

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Meanwhile, poor training for new recruits and veterans will foster a police force unprepared to carry out security operations without relying on excessive force. At least 17 people were killed last month as part of a new offensive against crime, dubbed  “Operation Liberation of the People (OLP),” in which elements of the PNB and other Venezuelan security forces participated. One Venezuelan human rights group said the OLP has led to “massive” human rights violations.