Transforming Public Security in the Americas   [open pdf - 207KB]

"Colloquium speakers and audience members explored ways to transform the character and capacity of public security in the Americas by integrating coercive and non-coercive responses to criminal activities and examined how to move beyond current frameworks which fail to integrate domestic law enforcement, border control, military support, and private security. The Colloquium organizers sought to find new ideas on how to create positive momentum in order to combat organized criminal networks that pose grave and multidimensional threats to social development and regional stability. Colloquium discussions attempted to rethink how different societies are confronting deteriorating security conditions and to identify more effective domestic and subregional practices without creating fresh imbalances among military, police, and civilian institutions. One major theme was the necessity to better engage society and get individual citizens and communities involved in making improvements to public security. This is especially needed since organized criminal groups (including gangs and drug trafficking organizations) are vying with the state for sovereignty or control of territory and the 'hearts and minds' of the citizenry in certain neighborhoods or rural areas. Criminal groups often provide their members with an identity and protection, and care for the welfare of citizens who are complicit in or turn a blind-eye to their crimes. The state is competing with these groups for a variety of 'sovereignty clusters' (even territory as limited as a few city blocks). As one speaker noted, 'the state is no longer the center of the [domestic] political universe -- the city is becoming more and more important.' Therefore, governments need to implement localized measures that empower individual citizens and communities to delegitimize and defeat criminal groups."

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14th Annual Western Hemisphere Security Colloquium: Transforming Public Security in the Americas. George Washington University, Washington, D.C.. May 8-10, 2011
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