Venezuelan cops don’t have it easy these days: they are either killed in horryfing circunstances, attacked by irregular armed groups or find themselves facing the wrath of the people they’re supposed to protect.
So, what advice can be offered to those in charge of keeping us safe, specially when criminal bands have more deadly firepower at hand?
HegemonCorp. newspaper Ultimas Noticias had a weird suggestion: Police officers shouldn’t act so “police-like” when in public.
From the annals of “Not the Chigïire Bipolar” comes this short-lived piece titled “Five key elements for a police officer to avoid becoming the victim of criminals”. The piece came up online on Monday and after a sharp little storm in the social media, it was pulled out.
What are those pieces of advice that UN thinks are essential for Venezuelan cops to be more safer? Here we go… [Translation is as faithful as possible and I personally recommend this accompanying soundtrack to read the tips]:
1. You must keep your eyes wide open, 24 hours of the day. Remember that you have highly dangerous enemies.
2. Avoid going to places considered high-crime areas.
3. Don’t rely on your skill or your experience. Remember that criminals can strike (surprise factor) at any moment.
4. Try to not get involved in street troubles.
5. When riding your motorcycle, avoid letting your gun be seen and, if possible, leave it at work.
In short: Don’t police too hard. It’s not worth the risk. It could be its own motto: You Only Police Once (YOPO).
The sub-story isn’t just the advice, it’s the short-shelf life UN article. The piece went out uncredited. It could be from an intern or perhaps was from Eleazar himself… Who knows? This feels like something out of State media, but they’re too busy bashing the evil American police.
Regarldess of what this article was trying to do, it ends up downplaying a very serious problem. Not surprising from Ultimas Noticias. Have you seen some of their most recent frontpages? They speak for themselves.
Here’s the latest example: earlier this month, there was a massive shootout between a well-armed criminal gang (which included grenades, of course) and the authorities leaving five officers wounded, some police motorcycles burned and creating panic among the locals. This incident, known as “The Battle of Cota 905”, shows what cops across the land are going through.
And who ends up taking the blame? The police themselves. At least 20 local police officers (Policaracas) are facing disciplinary sanctions and may be kicked off the force for “entering a peace zone without prior notification”. You know how serious is this “peace” thing for the central government, but one thing is what they consider as such and other is what the most recent edition of the Global Peace Index says about the lack of peace in our country.
Yet, the government is actually considering the military option: A new internal resolution from the Defense Ministry would allow for members of the Armed Forces to participate in activities of public security, criminal investigations and keeping internal order. This would be done only with the previous consent of the Interior Ministry. This comes months after military officers were also authorized to use lethal force if necessary to control public demonstrations.
For a long time now, many Venezuelans have avoided going out at night. But there are some who still dare to challenge the self-imposed curfew to do some normal things in the dark. And that’s something quite courageous on itself.