This series examines selected key aspects of police reform, drawing on lessons from Central America, the United States, and the world.
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) has monitored police abuse and U.S. and international police assistance since our founding in 1974. Peace processes and political transitions set the stage for efforts to reform public security functions, demilitarize internal security, professionalize police forces and increase democratic accountability for security policies. In El Salvador, Haiti and Guatemala, large-scale reform processes have been undertaken and have received significant support from the United States and the International community. More than any other region, Central America and Haiti have been testing ground for international assistance for post-conflict security reforms.
As WOLA monitored the evolution of police reform in the region, we became convinced that the long-term consolidation of the police as a professional, effective, and apolitical institution depends on developing greater citizen involvement and support for public security reforms. Reform processes are taking place in the context of dramatic increases in crime and face constant resistance and challenges from authoritarian sectors. Without a strong domestic constituency for police reform, these processes may founder. To support civil society organizations in the region seeking to engage with issues of citizen security, WOLA launched the Advocacy Training Program for Police and Judicial Reform” in Central America in 1996 with support from PRODECA.
Themes and Debates in Public Security Reform aims to make the issue of public security reform more accessible to civil society organizations. This series examines selected key aspects of police reform, drawing on lessons from Central America, the United States, and the world. Each section frames the debates on issues, provides examples of how issues have emerged and been resolved in different contexts, and offers examples of civil society advocacy for police reform. Theme and Debates also explores how key actors have affected police reform in various countries, including the role of international donors, national decision-making structures, and civil society.
The series includes: