Colombia’s Defense Minister on Sunday announced a reorganization within the National Police, days after its top commander was forced to resign over a police-ran prostitution ring and ongoing accusations of widespread corruption.
Following the resignation of General Rodolfo Palomino, who is facing criminal charges of spying on journalists, sexual harassment and fraud, Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas appointed Palomino’s right-hand man, Jorge Nieto, as commander of the National Police.
At the same time, the minister ordered a General’s Summit to discuss not just how to recover public trust, but also how to prepare the institution for one the security forces’ biggest challenges in decades; the assumption of control in vast areas currently controlled by guerrilla group FARC.
Ahead of the summit, Villegas said that “the first reflection at the summit will be about the role of the police in the post-conflict period” that begins once the FARC demobilizes its forces and abandons its criminal activities such as drug trafficking and extortion.
At the same time, the generals discussed “a major impulse in regards to transparency that will have to do with the police’s public activities, but also the good private behavior of officers,” Villegas said.
In order to enforce new protocols and policies, and to prepare the major territorial expansion, the minister said that in the coming days he would announce a number of promotions of commanders who will spearhead police reform and execute post-conflict strategies.
Colombia’s National Police has suffered from widespread corruption on all levels; While its former commander is facing serious criminal and disciplinary charges, patrolmen in cities across the country are accused of being on criminal organizations’ payroll.
Additionally, since the introduction of social media, hundreds of photos and videos have appeared showing police brutality, disorder, and animal abuse.