Fernando Berrocal, former Minister of Public Security, in the company of several former officers of the Public Force and other security forces, including Oldemar Madrigal, former Deputy Minister of Security, Enrique Rodríguez, former officer; Armando Dambrossio, former Air Surveillance pilot; Osvaldo Alpízar Núñez, former Director General of Police; and Rodolfo Enrique Astorga, a former DIS official, visited DIARIO EXTRA to promote the “Substitute Project for the Organic Law Project of the Ministry of Public Security”, which will be taken to the Legislative Assembly for analysis.
Berrocal and this group of specialists point out that the project seeks a reorganization of all police forces, including municipal and private security companies, except for the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ).
Next, the interview with this body of specialists.
What is the project about?
-The project aims to solve the problem of functional structuring of the different police forces, it is not about centralizing and unifying, but about creating a security system under the leadership of the Ministry of Public Security and under a higher umbrella, which is the National Security Council. The National Security Council is in the General Police Law. It never met in the eight years of the PAC and I don’t know if it was during the government of Laura (Chinchilla). I think the last time they met was when we were in the government of Óscar Arias.
There are several police forces that do not have a command address. What to do with them?
-That is why the idea is to unify, to look for a common strategy. Currently, what exists is an archipelago of police forces and the last PAC government left the stewardship of Security, the Mideplan, in the direction of the Ministry of Justice and Peace. At this time the address is in the Ministry of Justice.
Justice is above Public Safety?
-Yes, for the effects of the sector, in the sectorization of the Mideplan. I discussed this project with Jorge Torres, Martín Arias and Daniel Calderón, then Jorge tells me that he is not even the rector in terms of Security, but of Justice.
Is this project linked to the one that is also carried out in Public Security for the unification of police forces?
-Yes, he told me that they have their project. We drafted this project with 107 articles among ourselves, but the original project was done with the Attorney General’s Office. Luis Román, who is now in the Vice Ministry of Planning, also helped us a lot. Because this is taking the Planning system and mounting it on the project and with another project that we did with the UCR School of Administration.
Is it outdated because it was years ago?
-Of course, that’s why we updated and reformed it. I went to talk to Jorge Torres to tell him “here we have this project”. This project was going to be the security plan of the PLN, the security plan of José María Figueres, what happened was that it was lost.
That is why we began to think that this project was going to be lost and we decided to take it up again.
How to do with this project if Public Security, according to its minister, is bankrupt?
-You have to move from words to intentions, to deeds and actions. The main problem of the Ministry of Public Security is the budget, let’s not forget that. Budget to have more officers, more police, to buy state-of-the-art technology, to improve police stations. In other words, as long as the country is not aware that this is the main problem, nothing will happen.
How to improve police delegations?
-The idea is to build them and identify them with an architecture that everyone recognizes that the police station is there, with a unique design everywhere.
Do you intend to modify the General Police Law?
-Yes, here is a modification to that law: the National Security Council, the Presidency of the Republic and the Minister of Public Security, Justice and Foreign Relations would participate. In addition to that, that the three powers are involved.
What is the difference with the Public Security project, which even ex-minister Michael Soto would have promoted?
-What we want is a project on the table, which does not pretend to be the Canarian ointment and solve all the problems. We do not present it with that vocation, what we want is to put a text, that the reform be done and if better ideas come, that they put them.
Is the Public Security project more advanced?
-No, no more advanced than this one. We introduced him to Toño Álvarez in 2010, when he was on the Security and Drug Trafficking Commission. I and José María Figueres went to present the first project of this, then I presented it again to Viales in 2018 and he did nothing either, so we are putting a text on the table and that they do something.
Are the police forces also concentrating?
-It is not concentrating, even in the last version after the conversation with Torres I corrected it a bit and we passed the Traffic Police. I agree with passing the Traffic Police and it is a topic to discuss.
Are you creating other police forces in this project, for example, for children, for lawyers?
-These police already exist, only now by decree the one of the lawyers is the Alfa Lima and that already exists. What we are doing is organizing them.
And the children’s police, if there is no money?
-The original idea was that it is also very good to have school caregivers.
Are they private security?
-The original idea is very good, that they are not only school guards, but that they add troops, then you put in the schools or colleges at night where they sell drugs officers who have training in the National Police School, but follow them paying the Ministry of Public Education.
You promote a project that is not to unify the police, but to integrate more people into the National Security Council. So that?
-We integrate the president of Chamber III, the rest is in the General Police Law.
Likewise, there is a concentration of power because the president appoints the Minister of Security, the Minister of Justice, the Chancellor, then?
– Diay, but it is a constitutional system.
It even involves the attorney general.
-Well of course. How could the attorney general not be there if he was to create a criminal policy… You see, the only thing that exists is a very limited vision. There is a preventive police that is supposed to be the Public Force, the Drug Control Police that in its own law is repressive, and there is the Public Ministry and the OIJ, which is the repressive police. What happens is that this border does not exist because you are in an operation and the police go all out, but in principle, the OIJ is repressive and the Public Force is preventive.
So the police forces that want can participate in the raids?
-Yes of course. Currently the OIJ goes, but the Public Force accompanies it.
Yes, but not that the Transit Police, the Public Force raid me.
-No, because with the limitations imposed by the Political Constitution and with the authorization of a judge… In reality all this exists, all this is, what happens is that there is no coordination and this can be said by anyone who has been a minister .
Will they also include private police officers?
-Of course. The formal associations that represent them and that also, like the municipal police, will have to reform the Private and Municipal Security Law because this is a fundamental component of all this history. This is also a reform project that the five private security business associations have.
Is it 40,000 officers?
-That’s correct and we in the Public Force just by covering all the police forces reach 17,000. It is an impressive situation. Who takes care of the banks? Private security companies. Who cares for ICE? Private security companies. Who cares for the institutionality of the State? Private security companies. That’s why we put them to work with us.
Do a lot of illegals work there?
-That was the purpose of the meeting that Don Rodrigo Chaves, Rodrigo Arias and Patricia Solano held in the Legislative Assembly to talk about national security. Here in the first paragraph of the project I explain that the issue of national and citizen security in recent years has become one of the fundamental and priority pillars of the national agenda. We believe the meeting of the Security and Drug Trafficking Commission and the commitment of the three powers of the State to face the priority issue of citizen insecurity.