Breach of Trust: Prospects for Restoring Public Confidence in the Colombian Police

Andrew Goldsmith, Flinders University

Police-community relations in many developing countries are typically abysmally bad. Columbia is no exception. Relationships between many ordinary citizens and the police have been mediated by acts of police abuse, neglect, and corruption over many decades. An apparent historical inability of the police to 'fight crime' adds to the problems of legitimacy faced by Colombian police in the eyes of ordinary Colombians. Based on fieldwork observations, interviews, and documentary analysis, the paper looks at the reasons for low public-police trust before examining recent attempts to introduce community policing type schemes in Bogota and elsewhere among the major cities of Colombia. Measures of success for these programs are considered. The impact of the Colombian government's commitment to combatting the illicit drug trade for improving public trust in the police is discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006