New Strategies on Public Security in Latin America. Community Policing as Organizational Myth

Clara Buitrago

Bielefeld University


This article analyzes the police reforms based on community policing strategies implemented in the cities of Bogota and Sao Paulo. As in other parts of the world, in Latin America, this new strategy was perceived as the appropriate solution for the many and serious problems affecting police forces in the region. Following the theoretical contributions of sociological neo-institutionalism, the paper proposes that institutional environments are key elements in the determination of the police reform. The hypothesis is that in Bogotá y Sao Paulo, community-policing strategies were the result of the incorporation of organizational myths. In both case, the implementation of such strategies do not produce holist and truly police reforms, but the implementation of community-policing strategies only increase the external legitimacy of police forces and ensure their resources, stability and prospects for survival in the future.

Download a .pdf of the complete article here.