The rise in crime in Latin America has influenced a number of institutional changes, ranging from efforts to reform the criminal justice procedure, to developing adversarial and oral procedures, to mobilizing the population to protect itself to, finally, community policing pilot projects. Community policing efforts began in the early 1990s in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. Other implementation efforts have followed in other parts of Latin America. These experiences have been promoted and supported by international agencies and governments interested in achieving a reduction of crime and violence, including high levels of police violence, as well as enhanced police accountability to the public. They have contributed to the predominance of a new discourse promoted by policymakers and police officers that voices support for popular participation in crime prevention schemes, partnerships at the local level, and public accountability. The paper examines some of the existing experiences, their shortcomings as well as their achievements. It analyzes the type of difficulties that confront the implementation of the community policing model in the region, as well as some realistic objectives that it can achieve, but which will be far more limited than those initially planned.
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