Bratton Urges Latin American Policing, Justice System Reforms


Latin American nations can learn important lessons from U.S. policing successes even though Latin America faces “substantially more challenging crime problems than the U.S. faced even at its crime peak in the early 1990s,” former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton writes with Wllliam Andrews in Americas Quarterly. Bratton and Andrews cite Latin America’s “exponential growth of cities; the consequent proliferation of densely populated barrios and favelas with extremely challenging patrol environments; communities dominated by criminal gangs that violently resist police presence and police patrol; public distrust of police because of both real and perceived police corruption and brutality; a growing local narcotics trade, as well as a significant increase in the addict population.”

Bratton and Andrews urge establishing “manageable enforcement units.” In many Latin American cities, police are organized in districts that may include populations of 300,000 or more. “This is simply too large a community to be manageable,” Bratton and Andrews argue. Among other reforms they argue for are empowering middle managers who run local enforcement units and better data-gathering and analysis. The authors say that, “something must be done to speed the glacial pace of criminal prosecutions, which can run into years in many Latin American countries.”

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