Chavez launches new police force to beat crime

Chavez launched a federal police force on Sunday that he hopes will change the overwhelmingly negative image most Venezuelans have of their public security forces.

Chavez launches new police force to beat crime

President Hugo Chavez launched a federal police force on Sunday that he hopes will change the overwhelmingly negative image most Venezuelans have of their public security forces while reducing crime in one of Latin America's most violent countries.

"We are going to beat crime with prevention and also with action," Chavez said on his weekly television show, which he dedicated to the new police force and the prison system.

Chavez greeted and shook hands with the officers before they began patrolling in Catia, one of the most dangerous districts of Caracas.

The new uniformed police force will operate initially in one poor neighborhood in the capital Caracas, but will be rolled out nationally in coming months. It is expected to have 5,000 officers by the end of 2010.

Venezuela's current police are divided into hundreds of municipal and state forces, along with a national investigative unit and a civil intelligence agency. The army's National Guard division also has crime fighting powers.

Rights groups say police officers are responsible for thousands of "extra-judicial" killings each year.

Interior Minister Tarek El Aissami says up to 20 percent of crimes are committed by the police.

"This is a police force firm in its defense of human rights," Chavez said of the new force, which will have a 2010 budget of about $800 million paid by the president's office.

Police experts from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Mexico advised Venezuela during the creation of the new national force.


Agencies

Last Mod: 21 Aralık 2009, 12:16
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