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President Duque Announces Reforms to ‘Comprehensively Transform’ Colombian Police Force

June 7th, 2021


Modernization Measures Start with Putting Citizens’ Needs First


Washington, DC — Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez has announced that he will present a proposal to the Congress of the Republic to modernize the Ministry of National Defense and comprehensively transform the National Police.


The proposal, to be introduced on the first day of the next legislative session in July, will order Minister of Defense Diego Molano to modernize the structure and functions of the Ministry of National Defense in order to make clear that the National Police are responsible for Public and Citizen Security. Accordingly, the name of the Defense Ministry will be formally changed to the Ministry of National Defense and Citizen Security.


President Duque further announced that the proposal will seek to create a human rights directorate headed by an outside expert; implement a better system for following up on citizen complaints; expand disciplinary standards for policy officers; and require system-wide use of ID badges and body cameras, among other important reforms.


In addition to focusing on the needs of citizens, the proposal will also ensure the National Police have the support they need from the government.


President Duque announced the reforms at a National Policy promotion ceremony, during which he honored Dr. Carlos Holmes Trujillo García, who passed away in January 2021, while serving as Minister of Defense.


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MODERNIZATION OF THE MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE AND INTEGRAL TRANSFORMATION OF THE NATIONAL POLICE ANNOUNCEMENT


· During a ceremony to promote 134 new National Police second lieutenants and honor Dr. Carlos Holmes Trujillo García, President Iván Duque Márquez announced that he will modernize the Ministry of National Defense and comprehensively transform the National Police.


· The Head of State confirmed that on July 20th he will present to the Congress of the Republic a bill to create the Police Disciplinary Statute.


· The bill will order Minister of Defense Diego Molano to modernize the structure and functions of the Ministry of National Defense in order to make clear that the National Police are responsible for Public and Citizen Security, with a special focus on the needs of citizens; and to ensure Police have support from the institution.


· Likewise, he asked the congressmen, speakers and co-authors to work together to prioritize the processing of the Police Career and Professionalization bill.


· A decree will also be issued that will modernize the structure of the National Police, with the focus of strengthening human rights policy and standards for service.


· Consistent with international standards, urban police patrols will wear blue uniforms to reinforce their civil nature.


· The Vice Ministry of Defense Policies and Citizen Security will be created to ensure consolidation of public policy on citizen security.


· The Ministry will be renamed the Ministry of National Defense and Citizen Security.


· There will be 10 lines of action to provide better service and continue the fight against crime that wounds the country and sows insecurity.


PREVENTION, PROTECTION AND RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS


- The draft bill creates the Human Rights and IHL Directorate in the National Police. Its objective will be to ensure compliance with international treaties and public policies for the benefit of the community.


- The creation of the Human Rights Directorate within the National Police, through its Human Rights Observatory, will request the necessary technical assistance from international human rights organizations, which will make it possible to strengthen policy implementation in this area.


- Police women and men will be trained together to ensure uniform certification that enables a consistent application of training actions.


A new disciplinary statute for the National Police


- Protection of human rights under the new Police Disciplinary Statute will be harmonized with the Inter-American System, the UN and the Constitutional Court, prioritizing disciplinary investigation in cases related to human rights violations.


- This new statute updates disciplinary offenses to strengthen discipline within the police force, citizen protection and application of the CNCSC, a clear transition to orality.


- The statute will implement a new system for receiving and monitoring complaints and reports, which the public will be able to easily access, and will place greater attention on the faults committed and enshrine a commitment to continuously improve police service.


Police professionalization and development


- A fully autonomous Standards Center will be created at the highest level of the Police to validate the suitability of our police officers. This Center will be made up of a team of professionals and researchers of the highest quality. The professionalization of our police officers is one of the fundamental levers in the transformation of the police work culture.


- The Directorate of Education of the National Police will be created, signifying a commitment to the consolidation of the new police university. The Directorate will be in charge of strengthening professional programs for the comprehensive development of the uniformed during their career, ensuring training and qualification of the highest quality.


- We will transform police education and training through the implementation of professional standards on issues related to the use of force, human rights, citizen service and police procedures, all of this for greater citizen relations and better police performance.


- In coordination with the Ministry of the Interior, governors and mayors, regional Training Centers will strengthen the skills and competencies of our police officers.


- The new National Police Standards Center will be in charge of designing the standards for the development of procedures, as well as developing the guidelines for strengthening police education. We will have training instructors on the ground to observe and supervise.

Use of force


- The Police were asked to develop a bill that would establish criteria for the legitimate use of force by the National Police as well as strict and permanent protocols for how reviews of force will be conducted.


- A bill will be presented that will provide the legal framework for the use and trade of less lethal weapons in Colombia, and in the next few days the decree that regulates traumatic weapons will be issued.


- To strengthen the procedures carried out by the ESMAD Mobile Anti-Riot Squad, friendly countries will be summoned to receive recommendations from international experts on mediation protocols, use of force and intervention. Best international practices will contribute to the permanent professionalization of ESMAD.


- All our institutional doctrine is being reviewed and strengthened to maintain actions in accordance with international standards and protocols.


- Four 4 mandatory courses will be implemented to strengthen the legal and legitimate use of force and weapons, with an approach based on human rights. This will involve more training and will be required for promotion and permanence.


Citizen participation for the integral transformation of the Police


- We will implement a national dialogue to solicit citizens’ thoughts and input on how best to strengthen the National Police.


- It new dialogue will be called “Let's Talk about Police,” and the IDB will administer this great initiative that will help modernize our National Police.


- We will create a Commission for the Integral Transformation of the National Police of Colombia to evaluate the contributions of citizens, academia and civil society.


- President Iván Duque assigned Mr. General Luis Ernesto García Hernández to manage this Comprehensive Transformation of the National Police process. He will lead and integrate all the necessary efforts for this important purpose.


Increased technology for police effectiveness and transparency


- Rapid progress will be made in the implementation of new technologies that allow greater effectiveness against crime, increasing the response capacity to provide a better service to citizens.


- President Duque instructed the Minister of the Interior to allocate the necessary resources to strengthen artificial intelligence and data analytics in the planning and provision of the police service.


- Technological integration is also being carried out that includes information systems and data analysis to strengthen planning and response to criminal acts.


- New Police uniforms incorporate body cameras or “bodycams” as a tool to strengthen transparency and evidence in police procedures.


- Hand in hand with the Ministry of the Interior, urban police surveillance will be strengthened with an advanced system of unmanned aircraft in cities known as the SIART System.


- Likewise, with the Ministry of the Interior, the SIES Emergency and Security Integration systems will be strengthened, implementing plate and face recognition mechanisms, among other advances. With mayors, progress will be made first in “smart cities.”


New identity to improve proximity to the citizen


- The National Police of Colombia will adopt the blue uniform, aligning with international standards of police forces and law enforcement in the world reinforce its civil nature.


- The color blue is being implemented to convey the empathy, courtesy, tranquility and confidence we expect and require of the National Police.


- The new patrols will incorporate the new color and necessary characteristics that allow greater visibility.


Personal and professional development with a human approach


- We will ensure our police have better conditions in terms of career and salary. A new career plan will be implemented, this time by law in the new statute.


- We will also provide new career advancements opportunities for our patrols to recognize their professionalism, experience and excellence.


- These advances will contribute to the motivation and satisfaction of the uniformed so that they continue to provide high-quality service.


New model of police surveillance


- As stated in the Framework Policy for Security and Citizen Coexistence, a new model of police surveillance – neighborhood quadrants the allow greater interaction with citizens – has been designed to better account for the coexistence of citizens and security.


- This surveillance model recognizes the new challenges of crime while at the same time fostering a better relationship with society.


- These advances contribute to a targeted provision of the police service according to the specific needs of each local context.


Ceremony to promote 134 National Police second lieutenants of the 114th officer course and honor Dr. Carlos Holmes Trujillo García


· At 8:00 a.m. today, President Duque participated in the ceremony to promote 134 National Police second lieutenants of the 114th officer course and honor Dr. Carlos Holmes Trujillo García.


· Accompanying the Head of State were Minister of National Defense Diego Molano, Director General of the National Police Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia and the Military Leadership.


· The 134 second lieutenants who are members of the 114th officer promotion course comprise: 37 women and 97 men, of whom 3 are uniformed in commission of studies; 18 scholarship holders from the INL program; 10 Afro-Colombians; 4 indigenous from the Embera Chami, Resguardo del Sinú Communities and Quillacinga; and 6 Panamanians.


Honors to Carlos Holmes Trujillo


· Born in Cartago, Valle, on September 23rd, 1951, he was a Colombian lawyer, writer and politician.


· During his political career, he was Mayor of Santiago de Cali; served as a member of the 1991 Constituent Assembly; was a diplomat; served as Minister of the Interior, Education, Foreign Relations and Defense in different governments; and was appointed as head of the mission of Colombia before the European Union.


· He worked as a university professor at the Universidad del Rosario and was a columnist in various national media. He ran for President in the 2018 elections and was Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense in the Government of Dr. Iván Duque Márquez.


· On this occasion, the second lieutenants of the 114th officer promotion course honored the memory of Dr. Carlos Holmes Trujillo García, who died in Bogotá on January 26, 2021, while serving as Minister of National Defense, leaving an indelible mark and legacy of virtues, vocation and dedication to Colombia.