“The era of a repressive police force has been dismantled.”
Director of the National Police, Major General Edward Sanchez Gonzalez.
The law enforcement institution is developing a strategy to get closer to the community to prevent prevention.
From the Director of the National Police’s point of view, the development of any country depends on a security corps capable of responding to the challenges that occur. His 30 years of police service allow Major General Edward Sanchez Gonzalez to reflect on the uniformed police force’s transformations in the last two decades.
“That era of a repressive police force has been dismantled. Today our members know how to act professionally. We have been observing these changes, specifically in the technologizing and training of members. Today we have a different police force with many opportunities for improvement,” he assures.
In this sense, he emphasizes that the institution has regulations for citizens’ approach and the management of emotional intelligence. “To show authority, you don’t have to be rude. This is a job; you cannot personalize the prosecution of a crime,” he points out. Although he recognizes that there is still much to be corrected, he emphasizes that there are hundreds of positive actions on the part of the uniformed officers every day.
He assures that if the policeman provokes the excessive use of force, the control organs are immediately seized.
In an interview for El Caribe, accompanied by the Director of Internal Affairs of the entity, Brigadier General Andres Modesto Cruz, and the Director of Strategic Communication, Colonel Miguel Balbuena Alvarez, the head of the institution of order speaks of the actions implemented and the projections to continue strengthening the police action to make it more professional, closer and attached to the respect of human rights.
When asked by Osvaldo Santana, director of El Caribe, about the main threats in terms of citizen security, he pointed out that the fight against theft is the agents’ daily work.
In this regard, he emphasizes that the uniformed forces are focused on preventing theft in public streets since, he says, this is what worries society the most. For this reason, a strategy is being developed to get closer to the community through visits to the neighborhoods to listen to their concerns.
With the inputs obtained, crime incidence maps are drawn up to focus on prevention, prosecution, and punishment of offenders.
He informs that a general survey, ordered by the President of the Republic, to interconnect all police forces in terms of information technology and data collection, has already been completed. This plan also seeks to provide people with closer access when making a complaint.
Enforcing the restrictive measures established to prevent the spread of covid-19 is a responsibility that falls on the members of the National Police. In this action, there have been situations of an excess of power on the part of the agents and defiance of authority on the part of the citizens.
“In this daily life, our operations were concentrated on detention—hundreds of thousands of people subjected to the action of justice, people who transit without proper permission. There were confrontations, aggressions to patrols that were going to correct that there was an accumulation in a neighborhood or the street, and then they attacked the members with stones and bottles,” he says.
Fourteen agents dead and more than 2,000 infected by COVID-19 However, he says that in this process, a significant part of the society has collaborated and that resistance to the call to comply with the provisions has been the exception.
He highlights the orientation work directed to the police personnel to act with prudence, implementing dissuasion and dialogue rather than confrontation to avoid unnecessary aggressions.
In addition to the preventive tasks of patrolling, 911 assistance, investigative work, internal affairs, and intelligence, they also responded to the pandemic. They were alert to roadblocks, clandestine parties, businesses open at unpermitted hours, and the sale of alcoholic beverages. Being aware of the risks involved in enforcing health measures in this context, he reports that a protocol is being carried out, including psychological assistance to accompany members of the uniformed and their families.
Sanchez Gonzalez says he does not know the date on which law enforcement officers will be vaccinated against covid-19 but explains that when the inoculation stage of doctors and people over 70 years old is concluded, the police and military will be vaccinated in the endowments at the national level.
Referring to the announced police policy reform, he said that they are currently working on the institutional transformation ordered by President Luis Abinader.
In this regard, the director of the National Police affirms that in the last six months, significant achievements have been made, such as the improvement of salaries by 10% to 40% and premium medical insurance: “There is a will of the President of the Republic which has been decisive in raising the dignity of the police career.
A private officer used to earn RD$10,000, but with the 40% increase, his salary rose to more than RD$14,000. And if a patrolman has a risk compensation of RD$6,000, a private is easily earning RD$20,000/month. If you add to this a health insurance with a guarantee of primary and high-quality care in any health center in the country, this gives them security,” he points out.
Major General Sanchez Gonzalez assures that the achievements reached in these six months and the fulfillment of the projections will bring about a true transformation and professionalization of the institution. “It is a revolution in education never seen before. Soon, citizens will have and will be able to count on a police force with a new vision that is more professional and closer to society,” he emphasizes.
He also reports that the strengthening of the police career has motivated more young people to enlist in the ranks of the institution. “In the last promotion of rank-and-file officers, we admitted 1,000, but the total that applied was 3,000, which was not seen before. Among the actions implemented in this sense, he mentions the construction of affordable, decent housing for the members of the entity.
Mayors to participate in a security plan
He specifies that the Ministry of Interior and Police worked to form security and gender roundtables hand in hand with the mayors. “The plan will be based on this platform,” he said, adding that the provinces with the highest incidence of crime will be prioritized for intervention.
In addressing the issue of violence that generates insecurity, he specifies that 2020 ended with a homicide rate of 9.1 percent per 100,000 inhabitants in the Dominican Republic. “When we break it down, 2.4 % of the deaths are the result of crime, and 6.5 % are due to social conflicts, fights,” he explains. In that order, he reveals that the levels of violence in the provinces of Barahona and Bahoruco are worrying.
“We have a country where personal differences are easily settled with violence. We understand that society must reconsider and this situation of violence must be diminished with this co-responsibility as a society and the State”, says the head of the uniformed forces. said the head of the police force.”