The great wave of democratization in Latin America has been accompanied by a concomitant wave of crime, much of it violent. Increasingly, Latin American citizens are demanding 'strong-man' rule, in the vain belief that this will help make them safe. This excellent and comprehensive volume, edited and written by leading researchers in the field, examines the crime problem, the often ineffectual attempts to control it via police reform, and the threats to democracy that its pervasiveness has generated.
The events of September 11, 2001, combined with a pattern of increased crime and violence in the 1980s and mid-1990s in the Americas, has crystallized the need to reform government policies and police procedures to combat these threats. Public Security and Police Reform in the Americas examines the problems of security and how they are addressed in Latin America and the United States. Bailey and Dammert detail the wide variation in police tactics and efforts by individual nations to assess their effectiveness and ethical accountability. Policies on this issue can take the form of authoritarianism, which threatens the democratic process itself, or can, instead, work to “demilitarize” the police force. Bailey and Dammert argue that although attempts to apply generic models such as the successful “zero tolerance” created in the United States to the emerging democracies of Latin America—where institutional and economic instabilities exist—may be inappropriate, it is both possible and profitable to consider these issues from a common framework across national boundaries. Public Security and Police Reform in the Americas lays the foundation for a greater understanding of policies between nations by examining their successes and failures and opens a dialogue about the common goal of public security.
This book provides the in-depth critiques, comparative framework, and political analysis long needed in the study of police reform. Covering a broad range of countries on issues from international crime to community policing, and from the perspectives of different disciplines, this book is essential reading for academics and practitioners in the area of criminal justice.
John Bailey is professor of government and director of the Mexico Project at the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University. He is the author of Governing Mexico: The Statecraft of Crisis Management.