- History of the Colombian National Police
This is the history of the Colombian National Police, for further reading see "
history of Colombia".
Creation 19th Century
During the second half of the
19th CenturyColombia went through many political changes and struggles to define itself as a nation. Tensions between the two main political parties; Liberals and Conservatives escalated to numerous civil wars trying to establish a political system between federalismor centralismand other major differences.
The Colombian National Police was established by Law 90 of
1888to be under government orders and as a dependency of the then Ministry of Government with the intention to function as a Gendarmerieforce for Bogotá.
The new institution was planned to be a force of 300 Gendarmeries divided into three companies; commanded by a Captain, two lieutenants and a second lieutenant, all commanded by two high ranking officers.
October 23, 1890acting president Carlos Holguínsanctioned into Law the authorization to hire any qualified trainers from the either the United Statesor Europeto organize and train the newly established National Police. The Colombian officials selected a French Commissioner named Jean Marie Marcelin Gilibert. The institution was formally established by the 1000 of November 5, 1891.
The National Police initial mission was to preserve public tranquility, protecting people and public and private properties. By constitutional law the institution had to enforce and guarantee the rights of the people, the constitution and its laws and obey their authority. Its function also included the authority to take action to prevent crimes, persecute and arrest infractors. The National Police was intended to not recognize privileges or distinctions among the general population, with the only exception of international treaties established in the Constitution that gave immunity to members of diplomatic missions.
After a civil war broke out in
1895during the presidency of Rafael Nuñez, the president went absent and Miguel Antonio Carotook over office temporarily and declared a general state of emergencyin which the National Police was transferred to the Ministry of War on January 21, 1896and its members received same privileges as the military personnel.
When aged president
Manuel Antonio Sanclementewas replaced by Vice-president José Manuel Marroquínwho assumed the presidency, the National Police was restructured and organized in a military manner. It was transferred back to the Ministry of Government and to guarantee the security of Bogotá was divided into seven districts to cover the entire city. A mutual fund called "Caja de Gratificaciones" was set up to pay benefits to service members and financed by the penalties imposed to the civilian population. By 1899the National Police had a 944 agents strong force divided into eight divisions.
When the most intense of the civil wars broke out, known as the
Thousand Days War(1899-1902), the National Police was once again assigned to the Ministry of War until September 6, 1901. Under the Decree 1380 of September 16, 1902the National Police created the Presidential Palace Honor Guard Corps with the name "Guardia Civil de la Ciudad de Bogotá" (Civil Guard of the City of Bogotá).
During the presidency of
Rafael Reyes, the government authorized by decree 743 of 1904the Police was once again transferred to the Ministry of War, with the president micro-managing the institution. By authorization of Law 43 the Judicial Comisary of Police was established under the dependency of the Gereral Command of the National Police to investigate crimes within its jurisdiction.
1906to 1909the government created a cloned institution with similar functions to the National Police named National Gendarmerie Corps ("Cuerpo de Gendarmeria Nacional") intended to function descentralized from the National Police command and more militarized regime, managed by the Ministry of War. When General Jorge Holguín suppressed the National Gendarmerie Corps, the province governors were given the authority to organize police service at their own will.
Law 14 signed on
November 4 1915defined the National Police functions to "preserve public tranquility in Bogotá and any other place were needed to execute its functions, protect citizens and aid the constitutional law by enforcing it and the judicial branch of government. The institution was divided into three groups; the first in charge of security and vigilante functions, a second group acting as civil gendarmerie guard with the main function of protecting the postal service and controlling the prison system, the third group functioning as the judicial police. In 1916the institution was trained by the Spanish Guardia Civilin their doctrine, mainly related to criminology. Two years later the organization was restructured by the Decree 1628 of October 9 1918, assigning the direction, sub-direction and Inspector General duties to the Colombian Army. Soon thereafter, as authorized by Law 74 of November 19, 1919, Colombia's president hired a French instructor and chief of detectives, expert in the anthropometric system to train the National Police.
1924the Criminal Investigation School was founded to update personnel working in this area. In 1929the Colombian government in agreement with the Argentinegovernment, hired Enrique Medina Artola to train the Colombian Police in dactylographyto replace the anthropometric system. In 1934 in agreement with the Spanish government the National Police was trained in scientific identification until 1948.
July 7, 1937by the Decree 1277, the government authorized the creation of the General Santader Academy, which began operating in 1940as an institute for every policemen recruit in the force. In 1939the Colombian government receives the first cooperation agreement with the United States, through a Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) committee headed by agent Edgar K. Thompson.
El Bogotazo and La Violencia
1948when the civil unrest known as "El Bogotazo" broke out after the assassination of the popular presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitánthe stability of the country was abruptly iterrupted generating a period of civil unrest known as La Violenciawhich lasted for almost a decade. The government then decides to restructure once again the institution with the cooperation and advice from the British. The English mission was integrated by Colonel Douglas Gordon, Colonel Eric M. Roger, Lieutenant Colonel Bertrand W.H. Dyer, Major Frederick H. Abbot and Major William Parham, primarily assisted by Colombian lawyers Rafael Escallón, Timoleón Moncada, Carlos Losano Losano, Jorge and Enrique Gutiérrez Anzola.
By Decree 0446 of
February 14, 1950the National Police creates the Gonzálo Jiménez de Quesada Non-Commissioned School to train mid-level enlisted under the management of the General Santander National Police Academy.
Military Dictator, Gustavo Rojas Pinilla
June 13, 1953Lieutenant General Gustavo Rojas Pinillaseizes power in a coup d'etatassuming functions as President of Colombia. In an attempt to better organize the military forces, President Rojas declares the Decree 1814 of this same day to group the General Command of the Military Forces under the name of General Command of the Armed Forces. Defined the conformation of the Armed Forces by the General Command of the Armed Forces, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police Force, this last one assigned to the Ministry of War once again as a fourth military power, functioning with its own independent budget and organization from the other branches as established by law. The Ministry of War its later renamed with the name of Ministry of Defense. Many Police Academies were planned and constructed in other cities of Colombia; in 1953Academies Antonio Nariño in Barranquillaand Alejandro Gutiérrez in Manizalesare opened, followed by a social plan for retirement and social security called "Caja de Sueldos de la Policia Nacional" by Decree 417 of 1954. The Eduardo Cuevas Academy later opened in 1955in the city of Villavicencioand in 1958the Carlos Holguín Academy in Medellínopens. During this year a cooperation mission arrives from Chileto reorganize and train the CarabinierCorps in urban and rural surveillance.
As established in Law 193 of
December 30, 1959, the Colombian nation assumes full financial responsibility of the National Police.
Colombian Armed Conflict
1964and as mandated by the Decree 349 of February 19of this same year the Police Superior Academy is founded to endoctrine officers with the rank of Major to the grade of Lieutenant Colonels. By 1977the institution created the first course for female officers.
1960sand 1970sthe National Police started facing guerrilla threats which were emerging during these years as a backlash from the political bipartisan struggle of La Violenciayears and also the growing problem of contraband and illegal drugs trafficking that also surfaced and the involvement of the United Stateswith the implementation of the Plan LASO as a proxy warplan against the expansion of Communismduring the Cold War, the later declaration of the War on Drugsand the Plan Colombia, would eventually help develop the present and ongoing Colombian Armed Conflictinvolving mainly guerrillas; the FARC-EPincluding its Patriotic Union Party, ELN, Popular Liberation ArmyEPL, M-19, among many others; The Drug Cartels such as the Medellín Cartel, Cali Cartel, and others; Paramilitarism and the AUC. The Colombian National Police has been fighting against these many threats tainted or involved in some cases of corruption and accusations of human rights violations amid the efforts of the majority of the institution to change its image.
Late 1990s improvement drive
After some of its members were accused of being involved in many corruption cases, including guerrilla collaboration, paramilitarism and the cleansing of the leftist Patriotic Union Party, among other cases, the corruption generated by the drug cartels illegal money or other criminal activities, also fueled by the successive weak presidencies, the Colombian National Police became untrusted by the general population of Colombia, the country was facing an
intense conflictor a full scale civil war.
To prevent this situation the institution began a process of change focusing on reinvigorating the values and principles of the institution mostly leaded by General
Rosso Jose Serrano. Colombia's problems were demanding a strong government with strong institutions to face the numerous violations to the constitution and the population in general. The first steps towards this path was the deputarion process of bad policemen inside the force and targeting the major criminal organizations. The institution also focused on providing better benefits for the Policemen and their families and a particular effort to reinstate the trust of the community on the Police force emphasizing on preventing crime, educating the population and the policemen on cordial relationship, neighbor watch, cooperation with solidarity and community development.
1995the National Police began to change norms, structures and standard operating procedures, essentially on policemen judgment towards accomplishing missions and emphasizing on those whom are willing to work with self-less service, integrity, leadership and vision of improving the population in general.
The National Police continues to have some corruption and human rights problems but the improvement has been considerably positive including the formation and education of personnel in other countries law enforcement institutions and educational institutions through cooperation agreements. [http://snportal.policia.gov.co/inicio/portal/portal.nsf/17e5766707ce08f585256ebe004a8e6d/2539f3b976ca07700525711f004e3bf2?OpenDocument] The institution is also highly involved in the
* [http://www.policia.gov.co/inicio/portal/unidades/institucion.nsf/paginas/Historia2 Policia Nacional de Colombia]
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