Temas Especiales

20 de Jan de 2021


Violence ‘not crime’ climbing

PANAMA. The statistics and the consensus among Panamanians seem to say the contrary, but the director of the National Police, Francisco...

PANAMA. The statistics and the consensus among Panamanians seem to say the contrary, but the director of the National Police, Francisco Troya is certain that criminal activity in the country is not on the rise.

For the head of the institution, who has been in charge since November 2008, the situation comes down to an issue of perception, even though he admits there is indeed a rise in violence in delinquent activities, and that pushes people to believe there is an overall increase in the number of crimes committed.

“Delinquents are using methods more violent methods every time they commit a crime but, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the (crime) rates have increased,” he said. “A typical phrase in media outlets is ‘the rise of criminality,’ that is not completely accurate. Violence that has increased.”

Troya is confident that police forces are doing a good job, and that delinquency is still under control. When asked who controls of the streets, the police director said without hesitation: “the police.”

Troya said there is no easy solution to the security problems Panama faces. “The security issue cannot be corrected from one day to the other. Violence is the product of social decomposition and security is an issue where many institutions have jurisdiction. The Police is doing its part.” He also argued that the police force needs time and patience to handle the problems.

But time and patience are not avaialbe for many around the city who feel insecure, even in their own homes.

The Star has carried many crime narratives lately, many of which have been reportedly committed by youngsters.

According to Troya, the murders that we hear about often, are a type of violence whose responsibility lies neither on him or on the civil society. “The street criminals range from 10 to 30 years old,” he explains. “We would have to investigate what these children were thinking, what did they experience when they were teens, and what goes on in their minds that has led them to be violent. Some say that they haven’t had any opportunities, they have not attended school, parents would not discipline some, and there is a shortage of responsible parenthood.”

The police director also expressed his hope to involve civil society more in the ongoing fight against crime. “We are approaching certain groups, especially those who do evangelical work, to design programs of citizen security. We will rebuild citizen participation, for the betterment of their country.”