The idyllic training site for a new breed of police officer
Gaspar Hernández—Some 817 new agents who strive to join the ranks of the National Police are being trained at the recently inaugurated “Police Training School in Gaspar Hernández,” an idyllic campus that reflects the foundations of a novel reform that seeks to create a more prepared and humane race of law enforcement officers.
More than one million square meters make up the complex, which has a large green area, access to the beach, five swimming pools for swimming practice, 845 rooms for instructors and conscripts, the latter divided into groups of four, and 30 air-conditioned classrooms where they will receive a total of 25 subjects until the end of their six months of studies.
In this place, which shows the remains of what was once a hotel open to the public, there is also an infirmary with six stretchers available for primary care.
There is also an ambulance for quick transfer to the nearest hospital, an area for psychological care, a shooting range, a gigantic dining room, an esplanade for physical exercise and training, a gymnasium, and a space with automatic washing and drying machines.
A new breed is born.
In the immensity of the Gaspar Hernandez, the rules make themselves felt. Hundreds of conscripts go between the asphalted streets, with areas that complement the more than four hundred square meters in different constructions between concrete and wood, obedient to the orders issued by anyone who sits above them, according to the chain of command.
These more than eight hundred young men, between 18 and 24 years of age, who, by the requirement of entry, it is notable that they possess an excellent physical and mental condition, average height, no criminal record, earrings or tattoos, in addition to a virtuous medical condition, and so many other characteristics, respond with a “sir, yes sir!” to whatever is asked of them.
More than a month after their arrival, in September, they look tanned by the long hours under the sun in daily shifts that start at 4:45 in the morning and end at 6:00 in the afternoon.
The conscripts do not walk. They run; they do not look down, they keep their eyes straight ahead; they do not complain, they obey; they do not complain, according to their own words, they are grateful for the opportunity to serve their country from an institution “as valuable as the National Police.”
Under the guidance of Colonel Jorge Landeta Estrella, who is also the director of the Police Training School in Hatillo, San Cristóbal, and Lieutenant Colonel Dionis Smith Sanchez, who serves as deputy director of the Hatillo campus, the National Police and the Ministry of Interior and Police intend to train and promote education in absolute values in those who graduate as privates, different from those that the more than 35,000 agents that make up the old guard, the one that rubs shoulders with society and earns its regrettable rejection, had learned.
“We are going to have better policemen; from here on, we will not continue being the same. We are forming an agent with sensitivity, greater preparation, knowledge, and understanding of the human rights that are conferred to the citizen and himself. We are doing things differently, and we are going to see different results”, assured colonel Landeta, who accompanied a Listín Diario team, together with other technicians of the Interior and Police and his entity, during an extensive tour of the Gaspar Hernández campus.
As different results are sought, those who were trained in previous years and are part of the Police are the first to highlight the drastic changes centered not only on education but also on the value of mental health and good emotional intelligence.
A new police force
Five minutes, hundreds of men and about ten showers; hard, small, uncomfortable beds; food… for whoever could eat it; no contact with family or outsiders; and treatment so harsh and rough that it broke on a fine line with emotional violence; such was the treatment in a police training school in the past.
Now, in Gaspar Hernandez, a room in the best conditions is adequate with two cabins for four agents, who also have a bathroom inside for all of them and must see to the correct maintenance of their sector. The place was adopted by the hotel chain to which it belongs, with which the Government signed a three-year lease with the option to purchase.