What's going on at CICPC town?

CICPCAlmost eight months after a series of substancial reforms were announced in Venezuela’s criminal investigations police (CICPC, formally the PTJ), a brief report by the Comptroller General’s Office does not make for hopeful reading.

The biggest problem right now is that the CICPC has only 8,922 agents available and it needs at least 6,000 more ASAP.

The report also recognizes that our criminal police has “…no technical or procedural manuals to guide its organization and functioning” and also lacks the technological platform to do its job properly. Interior Minister Néstor Reverol has acknowleged the problems and says he will provide the CICPC with new equipment and at least 2,000 new agents.

CICPC’s woes are one major reason the broader criminal justice system has broken down. Bear in mind that CICPC is the only police force enabled to carry out any kind of judicial investigations. Local, state and the national police forces are “public order” bodies that can act as first responders, direct traffic or police events, but only the CICPC can work with prosecutors to collect evidence to be used in criminal trials.

The most worrying element comes from an internal report leaked to Caracas daily Últimas Noticias: 2,357 CICPC agents (almost a third of the entire force) are under investigation for various crimes. Five of them are now accused of robbing a woman outside a bank in Valencia last November.

The current limitations of the CICPC could have influenced the fact that fewer criminals were caught in fraganti (in the act) last year, according to the Prosecutor General’s annual report – which often the only way criminals can be jailed quickly, given that human rights provisions in COPP bans immediate arrest unless a crime is actually witnessed by a cop.