Corruption reaches all spheres, including institutional ones. The National Police is no exception and has the task of investigating their own. In the last few weeks alone, six policemen have been protagonists of different illegal acts.
On April 26, 2022, a sergeant and a first corporal from the institution were notified of the start of an administrative investigation for a very serious offense. The Police are investigating them internally for their alleged link with the illegal money collector, called Grupo Renacer.
The process initiated against the two policemen come under article 121, numeral 18 of the Code of Citizen Security and Public Order Entities (Coescop) which states: “…not informing the competent body of the commission of crimes or acts of institutional corruption.”
The investigation will move forward regardless of whether a criminal investigation is carried out by the Prosecutor’s Office.
“The accused are placed under the orders of the Police Human Talent Directorate, so that they are assigned an administrative support position in a police station,” said Ramiro Ortega, director of the Police Inspectorate.
This means that the uniformed officers leave their operational functions to carry out support activities until the internal investigation is completed.
Ortega said that they work normally, since they have not been charged nor do they have precautionary measures.
As part of their respective investigations, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Police raided seven buildings in Pichincha and Guayas, where they seized $10,383.
The police investigation began on March 25, 2022, for very serious offenses against the institution. That day, the videos began to circulate where the uniformed men are seen with wads of cash.
Dismissal, the most serious sanction for police officers
Ramiro Ortega stated that the internal investigation may take up to 50 days.
There are two units involved in these processes: the National Directorate of Internal Affairs, which carries out the investigation, and the Directorate of the General Inspectorate, in charge of sanctions.
“Internal Affairs has 10 days to issue a resolution, from there an administrative summary begins, which lasts 40 days. During that period, the police officer presents his arguments. A hearing is coming where Internal Affairs formulates charges and is sanctioned,” he explained.
The Coescop contemplates sanctions for ‘serious ‘and ‘very serious’ offenses.
Greed and corruption a long-term police problem
The police conduct cases date back to 2018, with 1,552 police officers sanctioned for serious misconduct. These are disciplinary offenses, domestic violence, road accidents and invasion of detainees.
A pecuniary sanction of 8% of salary or suspension of functions for 30 days is imposed on the uniformed, when there is serious event.
The Institution has dismissed 678 police officers nationwide for ‘very serious’ offenses from 2018 to date. These are: unjustified absences from service, obtaining personal benefits and not reporting the commission of crimes or acts of corruption.
These police belong to various areas of the country, but mainly worked in Quito, Guayaquil, the Guayas sub-area and Los Ríos.
They range from the lowest police rank to generals, such as David Proaño, for the Isspol case, and Enrique Espinosa de los Monteros, for misuse of the entity’s helicopter.
And just two weeks ago, residents of Ibarra were shocked by the murder of a seven-month-old baby on April 20, 2022. The mastermind of the crime is a police officer and the girl’s father.
According to preliminary information, the uniformed officer hired two subjects to kill the girl’s mother, but the bullet hit the little girl.
The officer is under preventive detention and faces charges for the crime of contract killing.
Ortega explained that this case is part of a very serious disciplinary offense of ‘unjustified absence from service’ of more than three days. Since he is in preventive detention, he will not go to perform his functions, so an administrative investigation will also be initiated.
Regarding the three police officers prosecuted for organized crime, for their links with the Los Tiguerones gang, the police director pointed out that here the lack of unjustified absence from service is also being used, but only for two of the three gendarmes.
One of them is on vacation, which ends on May 5th, and from that date the days of absence run.
Two of the police officers work in Esmeraldas and one in Manabí. They are sergeants and a corporal.
The National Police has 52,000 uniformed officers nationwide. The lowest salary is $933, earned by a corporal; the highest is $5,340, received by an inspector general.
“We have some of the best salaries in the region,” said Ortega. Hence the question arises: Why incur in illegal acts?
For Ortega, there are several factors.
“The lack of financial education to manage your money, the desire to reduce debt or the desire to increase purchasing power cause a small number of police officers to accept offers from these illegal collection systems,” he explained.
For this reason, the Directorate of the General Inspectorate provides training in financial culture as part of prevention.
It also performs periodic confidence tests, polygraph, toxicology, among others, and the cases detected are referred to the corresponding areas for treatment.
Within the purging, transparency and non-impunity process, the National Police has developed an anti-corruption policy, which included the creation of an ethics committee and a recognition plan to denounce irregular acts.
Confidence in the police service is a corner stone of the public trust. The service must adhere to the highest standards. It is true that there will be “bad apples” in any organization. However in regard to the police service it is most important that any unprofessional behavior is not tolerated in any form. Policing is not just a job, it is a profession .
You will never get rid of these crimes until you get rid of the cause: the need for protection from criminals who threaten people in power in these institutions; and the need for serious consequences for breaking the law by those who do so.