Bogotá: profiling a security plan that is integrated and participatory

bogota_panoramica_portal.gifThe numbers speak volumes. From being considered the most violent city in Latin America in the 1990’s, with a homicide rate of 80 per hundred thousand inhabitants and seven million inhabitants, Bogotá witnessed a 71% drop in its murder rate in 10 years to 23 homicides per hundred thousand inhabitants. The expected rate for 2006 is approximately 18 homicides per hundred thousand inhabitants.

The change is the result of an integrated and participatory security policy first adopted in 1995 and carried through the next two administrations. These were the first of Bogotá’s administrations to frame security problems locally, from the ground up.

Bogotá’s homicide rate today ranks below urban centers such as Caracas (133), Washington (62), Rio de Janeiro (50), São Paulo (39), Panama City (27) and Mexico City (27)*


According to Sociologist Hugo Acero Velásquez, who headed the Bogotá’s Sub-Office for Security for 8 years, the secret for a successful security plan is the participation of all sectors of society.

Present in Rio de Janeiro for a Police Training Course held at the NGO Viva Rio, and consultant for the United Nations Development Program, UNDP, Hugo Acero said that all the different institutions pitched in for the improvement of security in Bogotá.

 “It was not just a question of involving law enforcement and Justice. We had to ask other questions too: How many schools are present in that location? How many children are going to school? What access to health services is there in that place? Is there adequate lighting? Is the garbage being picked up?” said Acero.

The data

policia_cidada_legEng_best.jpgEm In 1994 the capital of Colombia registered 4352 homicides. In 2004 the number dropped to 1582 and it is expected that 2006 will record close to 1200 homicides. In the same period the investment in security rose from five million dollars to 52 million dollars, funding that came from a hike in taxes. Two new taxes were created, a discretionary surtax incorporated to property tax, and a compulsory tax on telephones.

The money was invested in police training in citizen security and equipment. New police vehicles (cars, motorcycles, and bicycles), communications equipment were bought and new police stations were built. “We trained the police in community relations and focused on providing quality service to citizens,” said Acero.

There was however, no corresponding increase in the number of police officers. Bogotá has had the same 10500 men from the beginning. Evidence that police training worked also comes from citizen response: in 1992 only 17% of the population expressed trust in the police, while 75% trusted the police in 2006.

Bogotá’s security plan was created based mapping urban violence in the region. Data analysis showed, for example, that 74% of the homicides occurred between 6pm and 6am, and 65% of these killings took place in 92 of Bogotá’s 1600 neighborhoods.

According to Hugo Acero effective crime fighting depends on understanding local crime patterns. “We now know where and when most crimes take place, and even the color of cars that are most stolen,” said Acero.

Bogotá’s security plan was conceived based on the following principles:

- The municipality’s highest administrative authority takes charge of the institutional management of the issue.
- Reliable information
- A plan to cover both security and convivência (or community relations)
- Improved access to justice for citizens
- Care for youths involved in violence and drug abuse
- Improved community relations and the recovery of public spaces deemed crucial
- Restricted hours for the consumption of alcohol (Hora Zanahoria)
- Disarmament (Gun Control)
-Care for those displaced from their homes due to the violence
-Strengthening Criminal Investigation

* Source: Revista América Economía 2004 y 2003. Instituto de Medicina Legal y Ciencias Forenses. Colômbia. 2004.

Read Further:

Bogotá's Success story, an article by Hugo Acero



Satisfied, partly proud, the balance of 2009, the Fire Department from Duderstadt. With concern, even reminding words describing Ortsbrandmeister Thorsten crown but the prospects for the future. Thus, the crown called the extraordinary performance of the security forces during Eichsfeld festival in remembrance counted on operations and training services, emphasized the good cooperation with other militias, police agencies for technical aid and the Red Cross.

The policies put in place by

The policies put in place by the latin american government has made a real difference and I am glad to see such positive statistics shown in your article. We need more progress to create a harmonious and peaceful society for the betterment of mankind.

A good plan to make

A good plan to make everything safe.
tampa lawyer

Having a stronger police

Having a stronger police presence may work in getting the homicide rate down, but more government always leads to a decrease in rights. The whole notion of the government trying to tax us for things that they find morally reprehensible is ridiculous, and nothing but another way for them to gain more control over our personal lives. We live in an age of gov induced hypersensitivity, and now any little annoyance that is able to be stigmatized w/ propaganda is indulged as a legitimate problem. Pretty soon they're going to start persecuting ppl for wearing white, since it reflects light the best and technically would put the ppl around them at a greater risk for skin cancer. Yea, it's ridiculous sounding, but the logic is exactly the same as ppl that can't stand being around smokers. The government is the one instilling a sense of corporeality and attachment to our bodies, which is just another exercise in using fear (the only thing that governments are good at) as well as an attempt at preserving our bodies to increase productivity to the state (what other governments were health nuts for this same reason? oh yea, the nationalist socialist party). The same goes for the way the gov targets certain items to hike up the taxes on, such as "sin taxes." Like almost all laws passed in this country, there's always some corporate bullshit behind it. I took a free smoking cessation class back when I was in college, and it seemed like they legitimately wanted to help me until they started throwing expensive teeth whitening products at us at the end. (I remember one of the brands was malibu bright, which is by no means a cheap complimentary toothbrush if that's what you were picturing). They should just call it "the government needs an excuse to take more of our money" tax.

Just trying to test this

Just trying to test this comments ::)


These ripples of change are the result of an integrated and participatory security policy first adopted in 1995 and carried through the next two administrations.


The municipality’s highest administrative authority takes charge of the institutional management of the issue and home health aide training .


The homocide rate can only drop when drastic measures are taken. It's the same with many things, look at smoking. Only when people use something like smoke remedy can they actually quit once and for all.

Good to see that a once very

Good to see that a once very violent city, has taken drastic measures to curb the homocide rate and improve the life expectancy of its inhabitants.

It is sad to hear that

It is sad to hear that Bogota has had so many security problems. I am glad to hear that better training of police have helped solved their security issues. Bogota security credentials seem to be getting better. I am glad to see that the policies put in place by the government are making a difference.

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