Traditionally Panama has always been one of the safest countries in the Central American region and it is still today one of the safest places to live in. Over the past several years with a large increase of people visiting and moving here crime has inched up.
One of President Martinelli’s campaign platforms was increased security for the population. This hinges partly on a police force with sufficient remuneration, adequate training and updated equipment.
The President of Panama has announced that this is to start right away. The current police force received salary increases across the board. This is the first step in the plan to improve security throughout the Republic of Panama.
The police is slated to receive new uniforms and new weapons as well as a new crime fighting strategy. A 5,000 police personnel deficit has been identified in the current police force in Panama. There are currently 18,000 police personnel in Panama, about 3 police per every 1,000 residents. Since June of this year the Panama Police Force has launched a publicity campaign hoping to enroll 1,000 police officers per year to get up to a total of 23,000. The recent salary increase has made this profession more attractive plus other benefits such as work stability, scholarships for children of police agents, bonuses, a soon to be introduced discount card for police agents.
In the First Forum for Citizen Safety, the director of the National Police announced two initiatives that will be undertaken. The first is a strong community police program meaning the police will know the area and the residents of that area and vice versa making safety a joint effort between the police and the community. The second initiative is a Board of Directors for the Police composed of businessmen and local people who work ad honor-em supervising the actions of the police and posing recommendations.
The actions of the government to improve the police force are expected to have a positive impact on citizen safety and to maintain or improve Panama’s international safety rating. Late last year in a report prepared by international consulting firm Merce and released by CNN, Panama was named as one of the safest cities in Latin America with excellent quality of life.
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