Located just eighty miles from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic’s proximity to a U.S. territory makes it an ideal transshipment point for drugs from South America to the United States. Cocaine movement through the Caribbean corridor increased in the last few years, with the bulk of U.S.-bound drugs transiting through Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. Resource constraints, endemic corruption, and lack of political will have handicapped the Dominican Republic. Inadequately trained Dominican law enforcement personnel hinder its ability to guarantee the safety of citizens. Against this backdrop, a growing number of government leaders recognize the urgency in addressing citizen security. The Government of the Dominican Republic (GODR) has made positive steps forward, and INL will continue to work with the Medina Administration to strengthen state institutions providing citizen security.
As part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), INL efforts in the Dominican Republic focus on bolstering the professionalism and institutional capacity of Dominican law enforcement agencies, including the Dominican National Police (DNP), National Counterdrug Directorate (DNCD), Specialized Port Security Corps (CESEP), Specialized Airport Security Corps (CESA), Specialized Border Security Corps (CESFRONT), and the Prosecutor General’s Office. Such efforts include the provision of training and equipment, support to vetted units, anti-money laundering technical assistance, and equipment and training for the establishment of an emergency 911 system, a vital tool to improve public safety.
In collaboration with the Government of the Dominican Republic, INL supported the establishment of a centralized emergency response system in the city of Santo Domingo by providing the technical platform for the 911 system, including call center, dispatch center, and video wall. The Government of the Dominican Republic and other donor nations provided all other components of the system, including the 911 physical facilities, radios, surveillance cameras, mapping, public awareness campaign, and recruitment and training of employees. INL will assist with the national expansion of the 911 system, including to Santiago.
Since its launch in May 2014, in its first year of operation the Santo Domingo 911 Center handled over 3.2 million calls, of which more than 250,000 were classified as emergencies. The average response time registered at under ten minutes. Latest polls indicate that the system has an approval rating over 90%. The introduction of a 911 System to the Dominican Republic has been credited by some analysts with a reduction in criminality, including the homicide rate.
INL programs seek to strengthen the institutional capacity of the DNCD to interdict drugs through training in methods such as surveillance and investigation; provision of equipment such as vehicles, radios, and bullet proof vests; strengthening its canine academy; and provision of upgrades to its information technology and communication system. In the past three years, due to the GODR’s commitment to counternarcotics and the support of the United States in this area, drug seizures have continued at a steady pace. Between 2012 and 2014, Dominican authorities, sometimes in partnership with United States authorities, seized more than 25 metric tons of cocaine. This success in drug interdiction contributes to decrease illegal drug availability and use in the United States. Since 2013, INL has been strengthening the institutional capacity of the DNP through the use of Colombian National Police (CNP) trainers under the Colombia Action Plan. Twenty-twenty five training sessions per year are held in areas ranging from specific police investigative techniques to handling victims of abuse. This collaborative effort features yearly planning sessions where representatives from INL, the CNP, and DNP develop the curriculum to address identified needs.