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Building the Haitian National Police: A Retrospective and Prospective View

NCJ Number
Janice M. Stromsem; Joseph Trincellito
Date Published
April 2003
20 pages
This document examines the development and expansion of a new civilian police department in Haiti.
International peacekeeping and post-conflict operations proliferated during the 1990’s in Haiti, and the establishment of a civilian police agency represents one such attempt. The hope generated throughout Haiti by the formation of the Haitian National Police (HNP), indicated that citizens were optimistic that democratic policing would lead to a stable and safe society in Haiti. Much of the initial hope for democracy has subsided because of the Haitian government’s failure to sign formal agreements with the United States concerning narcotics control and law enforcement, and the Haitian strategic planning process has proved to be both a strength and a weakness in the formation of the HNP. The short-term and overtly narrow thinking eventually led Haiti’s government officials to undermine both security and progress within the justice system, and to the United States’ role in cataloguing Haitian military prisoners in 1994. The interim need for policing in order to fill the growing security gap in Haiti, led to the formation of the Interim Public Security Force (IPSF), indicating that this agency soon gave way to international civilian police monitoring in Haiti. Discussing the need to develop the HNP from the ground up, the authors focus on Haiti’s desire for demobilization support and assistance. The initial development of the HNP demonstrates what not to do when seeking to restore order in a country experiencing tension within the government. Renewed interest and support by the international community might be all that is needed to get the HNP back on track to serve the people it was intended to serve. 28 Endnotes