‘Bridging ideals and reality. A case study of community policing strategy ‘Plan Cuadrante’ in post-civil war Quetzaltenango, Guatemala’.
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Violence, crime, and insecurity have become increasingly important problems in contemporary society, as well in post-civil war country Guatemala. As a response to a rising need for solutions to this insecurity, community policing strategies are implemented worldwide. ‘Plan Cuadrante’ is an example of a community policing strategy implemented in several cities in Guatemala, under which highland town Quetzaltenango. The concept behind community policing strategies such as ‘Plan Cuadrante’ is that citizens become part of policing and work together with the police towards a more secure neighborhood or society for which mutual trust is needed in order to be successful. Unfortunately, fieldwork points out that this Western-oriented community policing ideal does not work as effective in transitional and divided Quetzaltenango. As a result of 36 years authoritarian rule and internal conflict, the police-community relationship is heavily disturbed in Guatemala and distrust on both sides blocks the way to successful community policing. As a consequence of the poor police-community relationship, absence of the police, and increasing insecurity in Quetzaltenango, citizens more and more turn to informal policing initiatives and take the law into their own hands in order to make their neighborhood safer. Citizen patrol groups and alarm systems are common examples of informal policing initiatives.