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Origins and Development of the Policia Nacional Civil of El Salvador (From Policing in Central and Eastern Europe: Dilemmas of Contemporary Criminal Justice, P 172-181, 2004, Gorazd Mesko, et al., eds. -- See NCJ-207973)

NCJ Number
Devere D. Woods Jr.; David T. Skelton; Carlos E. Ponce
Date Published
September 2004
10 pages

This paper provides the historical background and description of the creation of a civilian national police force to replace the military police following the civil war in El Salvador.


During the 1980's, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala experienced civil conflicts that were fueled by Soviet and Cuban Marxist support of insurgent groups that challenged American-backed right-wing government forces. After the Salvadoran army achieved a significant defeat of insurgent forces (the FMLN) in 1989, a peace treaty was signed by both sides in January 1992. The document mandated dissolving security forces, including the National Guard, the Treasury Police, and the National Police, to be replaced by the National Civil Police (PNC) under the authority of the Ministry of the Interior; disbanding the army's immediate reaction battalions and civilian patrols; and eliminating the army's intelligence structure and creating a new intelligence agency controlled by civilians. Article 159 of the Salvadoran Constitution provides that the PNC is the national law enforcement agency of El Salvador. This paper describes the organization of the PNC; how it has dealt with crime, notably gangs and drug trafficking; and its place in El Salvador's legal system. The PNC continues to face many challenges. Economic constraints have led to a shortage of vehicles and basic police equipment, which impairs daily operations; and there is a need to develop supervisory mechanisms, criminal investigation and forensic abilities, crime analysis capabilities, and the general and specific education and training of personnel. 40 references