Until the wave of political violence in 2018, the Nicaraguan model for community-based policing (COP) was viewed by many as the means by which the country had avoided the crime and insecurity reported elsewhere in Central America. Paralleling these positive claims, the Nicaraguan National Police have emphasized particular characteristics of the COP model as the basis of this success. The Nicaraguan COP model is founded on three ethical pillars: communitarian, proactive and preventative. This study details the development of the Nicaraguan community-policing model and evaluates its historical and persisting significance as the guarantor of law and order through a critical evaluation of these claims and characteristics.
The study demonstrates the abiding significance of the Nicaraguan COP model, and the distinctive nature of its operation. In contrast to prevailing regional trends, there is much to learn from policing that emphasizes dialogue with the community over a reliance on technological or strong-arm solutions. However, the authors also observe severe challenges regarding its current capacities and its erosion as a result of the pressures of presidential authoritarianism, political corruption and securitization. This erosion of the COP model has negatively affected the conditions of human security in Nicaragua and is a significant factor explaining the character of recent violence.