ColombiaOne.comColombia newsBogota Deploys 800 New Police Officers in Response to Crime Wave

Bogota Deploys 800 New Police Officers in Response to Crime Wave


Bogota insecurity
Bogota deploys 800 new police officers in response to insecurity wave – Credit: @InspeccionGrnal / X

Bogota has reinforced security with the deployment of 800 new police officers. There has been a proliferation of robberies and extortion in the capital, as well as the murder last week of a businessman in the well known Parque de la 93. Robbery with violence taking place in restaurants and entertainment venues has caused a crisis of insecurity for the capital’s citizens.

One hundred of the eight hundred new police officers will compose a new special unit against theft from persons and commercial establishments. It is all part of the so-called Operation Bogota, an initiative that follows the line promised by the mayor, Carlos Fernando Galan, to improve security, and implements his “Bogota walks safely” strategy.

700 troops have already been deployed

Of the total number of new police officers, 700 were already deployed last weekend in the city. The remaining 100 will be deployed shortly in strategic points of the capital, where the greatest increase in crime has been detected.

“We are aware of the security problems that the city is experiencing and we are working with a strategy that gives results, but requires permanent adjustments,” said the mayor of the capital, aware of citizen concern.

To strengthen the response capacity, two helicopters have been added, including the Halcón helicopter and six drones with 12 crews for aerial patrols. Coordination with the Attorney General’s Office is fundamental to this comprehensive strategy, as Mayor Galan emphasized. In fact, this weekend the use of these helicopters has already been noticed in the skies over Bogota.

The local president has called on citizens to collaborate with the security fronts. Galán stressed the importance of articulating the actions of the different public administrations: “…that articulation is the key that we have to deepen to regain the trust of citizens, and also to collaborate with their alerts, with their complaints,” said the mayor.

“Capital of theft in Latin America”

In fact, Bogota is the scene of half of all robberies committed nationwide. Conservative Democratic Center councilman Julian Uscategui recently called the city the “theft capital of Latin America”. To back up this harsh statement, the councilman noted that Bogota reported in 2023 the same number of robberies as those registered in Antioquia, Cundinamarca, Valle del Cauca, Atlantico, Santander, Huila and Bolívar, the departments most affected by thefts during the same period of time.

“The mayor claims that theft has decreased in Bogota. However, if we compare the number of robberies with other cities in Colombia and Latin America, the situation is extremely alarming. In Colombia, Bogota reports the same number of robberies as all 7 departments in the country put together, and in Latin America, other capitals have lower figures: in Santiago de Chile 42,280 robberies were committed and in Buenos Aires, 55,163, far from the 147,666 thefts reported in Bogota”, said Uscategui.

Making police presence in Bogota more visible

After some calls from political representatives of the opposition Democratic Center to militarize Bogotá, the mayor has wanted to give greater visibility to the police presence in the streets and businesses of the capital. The so-called Operation Bogota needs to demonstrate immediate results to calm the fears of a worried and angry population that has experienced a notable increase in crime in recent months.

Although the strategy is not new, the authorities need to demonstrate that they are rising to the occasion and reacting to the crime wave. President Gustavo Petro’s statements a few days ago about the deep origins of crime and the need for structural changes to reduce it, fall short of the calls for immediate action from the public.

In the same communiqué in which Councilman Uscategui criticized the situation and demanded concrete and forceful action, he linked the alleged presence of a multitude of illegal armed groups in Bogota to the increase in crime. According to the opposition politician, there are 72 criminal gangs operating in the Colombian capital, some of them attached to armed groups such as FARC dissidents, the ELN, and the Clan del Golfo paramilitary group.

Perception of insecurity worsens

Although in figures reported by the mayor’s office of Bogota, during the month of January extortions, especially targeting merchants, increased, homicides decreased. In this regard, the local mayor emphasized that there was a 23% reduction in homicides in January of this year, compared to the same month of 2023. This translates into 72 homicides registered during the first 31 days of 2024.

As for theft from persons, which is another of the crimes that most afflicts the capital, the local government reported a decrease of 20%, with 8,814 complaints received by the authorities, compared to 11,040 filed in January 2023. For example, in the mass transit system, TransMilenio, there were 38% fewer complaints of theft compared to the first month of last year.

The other side of the coin was the extortion cases, which increased by 47% during January of this year, compared to the same month of 2023. In total, according to mayor’s office figures, 110 cases were reported during the first month. However, the mayor pointed out that they are aware that there are many more cases, as many of them are not reported, for different reasons, including fear of reprisals from the perpetrators.

With the significant deployment of police officers already a reality, Bogota will try to curb crime in a city perceived by its inhabitants as increasingly insecure.

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