Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Sometimes Honduras is surreal.

In the 1980s the only way you could tell someone was part of the investigative arm of the police (the Dirección Nacional de Investigación or DNI) was that they openly carried guns in public. They didn't wear a uniform, but did openly carry weapons at a time when you needed a permit from the military dictatorship to have a weapon. Thus when men in street clothes carrying guns stopped you on the streets to question you, you were obliged to assume they were police and obey them. There was no way to distinguish them from the criminals, who also had guns and often openly carried them in public.

Fast forward to now. As part of the modernization of the National Police everyone got uniforms. The Dirección General de Investigación (DGIC) or Dirección Nacional de Invesitgación Criminal (DNIC) which replaced the DNI has a simple uniform. Their uniform shirt, as I recall, is either a dark blue or black shirt with the name of the DGIC written on the back. Its simple, modeled after what FBI agents wear in many TV shows when out on a "bust".

Maybe its too simple a uniform, though. Anyone with silkscreening equipment, say a t-shirt shop, can copy it. The DGIC complains that criminals are impersonating them by wearing their uniform shirt. You can't tell the criminals from the real police. Shades of the 1980s.

So, how do they propose to solve this problem? La Tribuna, in its minute by minute column, tells us the solution is simple; they're going to stop wearing uniforms, or at least, the uniform shirt. Its the obvious solution, isn't it?

Lets see, the problem is that the criminals are wearing police uniforms, which the police wear so that citizens can tell they're the police and not criminals. So now, the police will stop wearing the uniforms, so you won't be able to tell them from ordinary citizens or criminals with guns. So once again, we're back to the 1980s, you can't tell the police from the criminals.

The DGIC says this will stop the delinquents from passing as police.


Without a uniform, once again, there is no way to tell the police from the criminals. This seems like a transparent attempt to reduce the number of human rights abuse claims against the DGIC, by making it harder to ascertain who committed the abuse. Can the COBRAS be far behind?

1 comment:

RNS said...

Take a look at this article in El Heraldo:


The "uniform" is a t-shirt that literally anyone who can silk-screen print onto cloth could duplicate. No wonder the criminals found it easy to dress as cops!

The article has a picture of Security Minister Oscar Alvarez cutting one up, symbolically indicating that the DNIC should now wear plain clothes.

The article says that Alvarez will ask Congress for a law punishing anyone who is not in law enforcement from wearing any part of the uniform.