The Policía Nacional Bolivariana (Bolivarian National Police, PNB) is Venezuela's national police force, created in 2009. Law enforcement in Venezuela has historically been highly fragmented and the creation of a national police force was originally not popular among the public and organizations. The creation of a National Police was one of the recommendations of a 2006 National Commission on Police Reform (CONAREPOL). As per the CONAREPOL recommendations, the PNB works with local communal councils and is intended to respect human rights in a way Venezuelan police often have not. At the time the force was set up, the wage rate for officers in the new force was three times higher than that in existing forces.
Initially active in parts of Caracas, the first six months of operations saw falls of around 60% in rates of murder and robbery in the areas the PNB was active.[better source needed] As of July 2010, the PNB had around 2,400 officers, with a further 1,400 in training. Now it has grown into an estimated 20,000 strong national police force.
In 2001, the Venezuelan National Assembly gave the government one year to create a national police force. President Hugo Chavez then attempted to create a centralized national police force, announcing to create one in August 2002. However, the Venezuelan public, academics, NGOs and municipal governments rejected the idea with Alfredo Peña stating that the police would possibly be used to repress protesters, resulting with the Venezuelan government canceling the creation of a national police force.
In 2006 a National Commission on Police Reform (CONAREPOL, from the Spanish name) conducted studies aimed at reforming the police, in consultation with police and local communities. It found that
"Careful study of the different police agencies makes it evident that many do not have adequate infrastructure, and they are lacking in basic services or the spaces that are necessary for police activities (e.g., holding cells). In other cases, they do not even have their own building. Higher level technological resources (phones, fax, internet connection, computers, software) are relatively rare or, if present, are found only at central headquarters. Lack of, or deficiencies in, infrastructure are most marked for the municipal police.… [T]he majority of [all] police agencies are unable to assign a firearm to each officer on duty; neither are there sufficient handcuffs or bullet-proof vests. Some agencies have only one firearm for the whole force."
In general, the Commission found, "bureaucracy is weakly developed: three-quarters of state and municipal forces do not have a manual for procedures and two-thirds lack an organizational manual".
In November 2008 a Commission for the Police System (Comsipol) was created to implement CONAREPOL's recommendations. These included the creation of a National Police, which was done in 2009. Other recommendations were that the police should be specifically trained in human rights, and have a greater emphasis on crime prevention. The Experimental Security University was set up to provide such training with branches in various Venezuelan cities.
On December 7, 2009, the Bolivarian National Police was officially raised with the full enactment of the Police Service Organic Law of 2009 and the Police Service Statues Law, published on the Official Gazette on the same day. These laws formally marked the founding of what is now South America's newest national police force, which took place formally on December 20 the same year.
Legal Basis and Mission-Vision Statement
According to the 1999 Constitution of Venezuela the Federal Government, as per Article 332 of the Constitution is empowered to "create organizations that will provide the safety and security of the people of Venezuela as well as to defend their constitutional rights", provided that such organizations comply with the Constitution and the laws of the Republic and, with no discrimination, respect the human rights of the Venezuelan people and must be of civil character. The National Police is one of those mandated organizations, and in accordance with the Constitution is a full-time federal and national police force under the control of the government, reporting to the Ministry of the Interior, mandated to provide the security needs of every Venezuelan.
While Article 34 of the Police Organic Law states the similarities of the National Police with the state, municipal, city and township police forces and the Venezuelan National Guard, Article 39 of the said law states the following services to be rendered only by personnel of the National Police:
- Customs policing, penal establishment protection, environmental, maritime and migration protection, transport police services and border security
- Protection of state dignitaries and the diplomatic corps
- Partnerships with international police agencies and compliance with international laws ratified by the Venezuelan government
- Raising tactical groups with their respective regulations
- Full compliance with judicial order, laws and regulations passed by the National Assembly
The National Police is headed by, as of 2015, the Director General of the National Police, Chief Commissioner Manuel Eduardo Pérez Urdaneta.
It is organized into:
- National Command Directoriate of the National Police
- Deputy Directorate
- Office of the National Police Secretariat General
- National Police Offices for:
- Police Complants and Actions
- Legal Services
- Human Resources
- Information Technology
- Communications and Public Relations
- Police Planning and Systems
- Victim attention and police operations
- National Police Directorates
- Land Surveillance and Transportation Security
- National Police Regional Commands serving all 23 states of Venezuela through the State, Municipal and Township/City Police Forces
- Eastern and Insular
- "THE POLITICS OF THE METROPOLITAN POLICE". United States Department of State. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Venezuelanalysis.com, 23 July 2010, New Police Force Reduces Crime
- Venezuelanalysis.com, 6 December 2009, Venezuelan Government Triples Police Wages
- Venezuelanalysis, 3 April 2009, Human Rights and Police Reform in Venezuela: A Venezuelan Perspective
- CONAREPOL (2006), quoted in Birkbeck (2009)
- Antillano, A. Gabaldn, L. G. and Antillano, A. (eds) (2007) "Caracteristicas de la polica venezolana." La polica venezolana: Desarrollo institucional y perspectivas de reforma al inicio del Tercer Milenio 1, pp. 64-158. Comision Nacional para la Reforma Policial, Caracas; cited in Birkbeck (2009)
- Venezuelanalysis, 30 March 2009, Crime in Venezuela: Opposition Weapon or Serious Problem?
- Birkbeck, Christopher (2009), "Venezuela: the shifting organizational framework for the police", Police Practice and Research, Volume 10, Issue 4 August 2009, pages 295 - 304