Emory International Law Review

Policing in Partnership: Nicaraguan Policies with Implications for U.S. Police Forces
J. Thomas Ratchford III  Notes and Comments Editor, Emory International Law Review, Volume 32; J.D. Candidate, Emory University School of Law (2018); Yale University B.A. (2014). The author would like to thank his faculty advisor, Professor Laurie Blank, for her guidance and patience throughout the writing process; the members of the Executive Board of the Emory International Law Review for their feedback and edits in preparing this Comment for publication; as well as his friends and family for their support throughout this process.

Introduction

In the face of surging regional violence, processes and techniques developed by the Nicaraguan National Police yield the lowest violent crime rates in the region, in spite of ranking as the poorest country in Central America.  1Santiago Ramirez, Inter-American Development Bank [IDB], Violence and Crime in Nicaragua: A Country Profile, Discussion Paper, No. IDB-DP-306, 34 (June 2013) (measuring GDP per capita; in terms of real GDP Nicaragua ranks second poorest behind Belize). Bucking the trend towards militarization in regional police forces, mirroring U.S. policy,  2This phenomenon has been described as the “(re)production of US-American state sovereignty through ‘de-territorialized campaigns of public safety’ that are ‘focused on countering territorial contamination and transgression—‘terrorist’, demographic and biological infiltration.’” Markus-Michael Müller, Punitive Entanglements: The War on Gangs and the Making of a Transnational Penal Apparatus in the Americas, 20 Geopolitics 696, 697 (2015). Nicaragua has developed community-centered programs that emphasize restorative justice.  3Yader Prado Reyes, Primera Comisionada Aminta Granera: En Nicaragua el Pueblo es Protagonista de su Propia Seguridad, El 19 (Sept. 8, 2016), http://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:46168-primera-comisionada-aminta-granera-en-nicaragua-el-pueblo-es-protagonista-de-su-propia-seguridad. In this endeavor, Nicaragua is harnessing the intent behind the traditionally backward-looking goals of transitional justice mechanisms  4These programs are targeted at preventing the “recurrence of crises and future violations of human rights, to ensure social cohesion, nation-building, ownership and inclusiveness at the national and local levels and to promote reconciliation.” Pablo de Greiff, Annual Rep. on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence, ¶ 46, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/21/46 (Aug. 9, 2012); see Ruti G. Teitel, Transitional Justice in a New Era, 26 Fordham Int’l L.J. 893 (2002) (describing the backward looking nature of traditional transitional justice). Here, Nicaragua has applied the tenets of non-recurrence through constant reform aimed at ownership and inclusiveness in the community through partnerships at the policing level. See Ley No. 872, 26 June 2014, Ley de Organización, Funciones, Carrera y Régimen Especial de Seguridad Social de la Policía Nacional, [Ley de Bienestar y Seguridad Social] [Wellbeing and Social Security Law] tit. I., ch. II., Art. VII, La Gaceta, Diario Oficial [L.G.], 7 July 2014 (Nicar.) [hereinafter Ley No. 872]. and deploying these tenets towards a proactive state-security model.  5See Ley No. 872, supra note 4. This concept is codified in legislation aimed at prioritizing citizen security through programs emphasizing constant reform of security apparatuses in partnership with the population.  6See id. Nicaragua’s community-policing techniques, informed by the vernacular of transitional justice, are intended to prevent the reoccurrence of violence by addressing root causes  7Mark Ungar & Enrique Desmond Arias, Reassessing Community-Oriented Policing in Latin America, 22 Policing Soc’y 1, 2 (2012). rather than reacting to them and perpetuating cycles of violence.  8This reactionary response to gang violence, as one author suggests, has led to “more powerful and brutal” gangs as “all-out war” has led to continued violence at unprecedented levels. José Miguel Cruz, Criminal Violence and Democratization in Central America: The Survival of the Violent State, 53 Latin Am. Pol. & Soc’y 1, 26 (2011).

Nicaragua’s experiences have not comported with its neighbors, both regionally and globally. In explaining incongruous crime statistics, the Director of Nicaragua’s National Police, Aminta Granera, emphasized that her department’s greatest strength rests in its commitment to community involvement.  9Hannah Stone, Exporting Nicaragua’s Security Model, Insight Crime (Mar. 9, 2012), http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/exporting-nicaraguas-security-model (summarizing her model as one that is “preventative, proactive, communitarian, deeply rooted in the heart of the community.”). This concept of community involvement is not a uniquely Nicaraguan development. The 1990s saw the rise of community policing in the United States before gang violence pivoted policy towards the militarization of these police forces, a technique then copied by many of Nicaragua’s neighbors.  10See generally Luis E. Preciado, State Approaches Toward Reducing Youth Violence in Honduras and Nicaragua, 3 (2015) (Masters Thesis Naval Postgraduate School). In many ways, Nicaragua’s policies build on the intellectual antecedents of American community policing, presenting a new modern form, worthy of transfer, that U.S. forces should consider tailoring to their own communities.

Through an examination of Nicaragua’s community-focused processes and techniques, exportable and best practices will be distilled. In order to extract uniquely Nicaraguan methods, neighbors’ approaches will be compared, highlighting different strategies while distinguishing alternative factors that have been proposed as drivers of violence or peace. Once Nicaraguan practices have been differentiated from the region, they will be contrasted with those in place in U.S. jurisdictions (as it relates to national trends given the lack of a national police force). Specific emphasis will center on the prevention of, and not the reaction to, crime through cooperation with stakeholders, including but not limited to: community members, victims, perpetrators, and the criminal justice system with a focus on law enforcement.

While there are manifold factors contributing to violence in the region, this inquiry will focus exclusively on youth gang violence and the processes by which Nicaragua confronts this challenge. This study will not delve into the political process other than that which cannot be divorced from police practice.  11Political structure will have to be discussed in the context of Nicaragua and her neighbors to analyze the claim that “references to maras and migration have obscured explanations” of violence in the region and the disparate levels of violence can be explained by State contributions to violence which is evidenced by their “tolerating, encouraging, and even participating in the production of criminal violence.” Cruz, supra note 8, at 25−26. While interdisciplinary scholarship has focused on economics and policies underlying narco-trafficking, this Comment will be constrained to the violence executed by youth gangs and governmental responses. There will be a further emphasis on the frontline community level to address this violence and the ensuing effect on its prevalence and subsequent rehabilitation and incarceration of individuals involved in its perpetuation. Finally, an emerging topic specifically in Nicaragua has been gender-based violence; this category of violence is admittedly broad and will not be subjected to a cursory mention when it is deserving of its own scholarship. This Comment will not delve into political power structures except when necessary to frame youth gang violence within the context of its historical and geopolitical reality.

Part I of this Comment will frame the development of Nicaragua’s policies, guided by the overarching aims of transitional justice and shaped by the role of youth gang violence. Gangs and their composition will be surveyed to understand the impetus behind responses and ensuing outcomes of programs in Central America. Against this backdrop, U.S. gang prevalence and responses will be surveyed, setting up a foil to the Nicaraguan approach that will be subsequently unpacked. Part II will analyze Nicaragua’s specific initiatives, exposing best practices that operate independently of historical influences and can be distinguished from its neighbors and thus exported. This template, predicated on public legitimacy gained through community involvement, education, and rehabilitation, will then be extrapolated beyond countries transitioning from violence to democracy, specifically U.S. police forces. This process will highlight the critical nature of the police-community interaction as the “first link in the criminal justice system.”  12 Crime in Latin America: A Broken System, The Economist (July 12, 2014), http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21606864-citizens-security-regions-biggest-problem-time-improve-criminal-justice-broken. [hereinafter Crime in Latin America]. While definitions of community-oriented policing vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, consensus may exist at a “fundamental level” once “factors contributing to the divergence of definition” have been addressed.  13Sumedh Rao, GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report: Community Policing in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States 3 (2013), http://www.gsdrc.org/docs/open/hdq997.pdf. This entire process will be driven by context, as mimetic approaches have exposed the pitfalls of broadly applied yet untailored solutions.  14Charles M. Katz & Vincent J. Webb, Police Response to Gangs: A Multi-Site Study 321 (2004), https://cops.usdoj.gov/html/cd_rom/solution_gang_crime/pubs/PoliceResponsetoGangs.pdf. The conclusion section will promote Nicaraguan components embodied by four factors: (1) political commitment to reform, (2) community involvement, (3) restorative justice through education and rehabilitation, and (4) public legitimacy. These factors can then be tailored to the U.S. system resulting in a modern definition of community policing informed by Nicaragua’s transitional justice experience.

I. Background

The field of transitional justice provides a framework informing the transition from violence to democracy.  15Ruti Teitel, who coined the term, defines transitional justice as the “conception of justice associated with periods of political change.” Ruti G. Teitel, Transitional Justice Genealogy, 16 Harv. Hum. Rts. J. 69, 69 (2003). Once truth, justice, and reparations have been addressed, the end goal is institutional reform ensuring non-recurrence;  16Intuitively, to guarantee non-recurrence, constant and responsive reforms would be required to encompass a “holistic” approach. de Greiff, supra note 4, ¶ 20. however, existing police culture and strained community relations have become roadblocks impeding progress before, after, and during these transitions.  17Rao, supra note 13 (explaining that “there have been some benefits, though the programmes have not been as transformative as hoped” in conflict-affected states, stemming from police culture and community relations). This blurring of the boundary between periods of transition and normalcy has created tension between traditional transitional justice frameworks and steady-state transition.  18Teitel, supra note 15, at 93; see also Teitel, supra note 4, at 896 (describing this shift as one that is moving away from “judgment” and is being “associated with the more complex and diversely felt necessities of State-building in contemporary political circumstances”). This contradiction predicated on the time horizons of transition makes local context critical in shaping the outcome and legitimacy of the rule of law.  19Teitel, supra note 15, at 93. Nowhere is this paradigm more evident than in Latin America, specifically Central America, where a “pervasive weakness in the basic institutions of the rule of law” has engendered a marked lack of faith in the criminal justice system.  20Crime in Latin America, supra note 12 (Examining this breakdown, it is imperative to view transitional justice mechanisms through the lens of “the characteristics of the contexts in which they are applied” given the reality that they must be “fine-tuned, targeted and sensitive to context.”); de Greiff supra note 4, ¶ 18.

This lack of faith in the criminal justice system is warranted, as worldwide homicide conviction rates stand at forty-three out of every one hundred murders, whereas in Latin America less than half, roughly twenty out of every one hundred, are convicted.  21Crime in Latin America, supra note 12. While the core processes of transitional justice seek justice, reparation, truth, and reform, steady-state transition applies these concepts to instances of “pervasive conflict.”  22de Greiff, supra note 4, ¶ 10. The UN Special Rapporteur defines this set of processes as “preventing the recurrence of crises and future violations of human rights, to ensure social cohesion, nation-building, ownership and inclusiveness at the national and local levels and to promote reconciliation.” Id. ¶ 46; see Teitel, supra note 15, at 71−72, 78, 89−90 (describing the post-Cold War transitions as being associated with “diverse Nation-building projects” and describing present conditions of ongoing conflict). Central American nations may not be in the midst of traditional transitional periods; however, institutional breakdowns illustrated by gang violence should be addressed within this broader concept of “steady-[s]tate” transitional justice.  23Teitel, supra note 15, at 89−90. This “expanded humanitarian discourse” that emerges as a result of the politics of globalization is driven by instability begotten by violence.  24Id. at 90. As a result, Nicaraguan approaches can be seen through the lens of two of the transitional justice processes: constant reform targeted at justice in the midst of violence.  25See de Greiff, supra note 4, ¶ 46.

This systemic breakdown, fueled by violence, has resulted in “internal displacement” and “record-level emigration of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) and families to the United States.”  26Clare Ribando Seelke, Cong. Research Serv., RL34112, Gangs in Central America 1 (2016). It is this context of violence and diaspora that led the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to declare that violence, specifically gang violence, has created a “refugee-like” situation.  27Id. While the specter of traditional war may have yielded to a democratically elected government, institutional development continues to indicate that this transitional period may not be over, as factors including the “absence of violence,” tracked by the Inter-American Development Bank, suggest that Central American countries continue to confront systemic problems.  28Ramirez, supra note 1, at 34.

As a result, analysis of police-community relations and police culture through the lens of transitional justice,  29de Greiff, supra note 4, ¶ 46 (examining the community policing initiatives through the lens of the goals of transitional justice, set out as justice, reparation, truth, and reform (in order to prevent re-occurrence)). couched in the discourse of human rights law,  30For example, it has been argued that rather than criminalize certain acts coupled with forceful responses, institutions would be better served by hewing to U.N. Rights of the Child Convention. José Luis Rocha & Dennis Rodgers, Gangs of Nicaragua 162 (Impresiones Helios 1st ed. 2008). In fact, the Mano Dura approach in El Salvador was struck down for its violation of the Convention. Rodgers et al., Gangs of Central America: Cases, Costs, and Interventions (2009), reprinted in Small Arms Survey; Occasional Paper 23, 12. provides a pathway for achieving stability and peace.  31Ramirez, supra note 1, at 34 (the six World Governance Indicators are “political stability/absence of violence, control of corruption, regulatory quality, rule of law, government effectiveness, and voice and accountability”); see also Rao, supra note 13, at 2 (drawing from case studies in Afghanistan, Kenya, and Sierra Leone, the author has found that through these relationships, state legitimacy was strengthened along with trust while exposing a series of lessons that are indicative of the challenges which will be highlighted throughout Central America). Transitional justice has been characterized as “backward-looking” in its application to prior conflicts,  32Teitel, supra note 4, at 905 (describing this “backwards-looking” approach as one that is “not capable of ensuring prospective security”). but the community policing principles developed by Nicaragua in the crucible of steady-state transition provides a template to escape this cycle of historical “concepts of justice” through a State-Security model.  33It has been argued that transitional justice principles are not “adequate” in guiding situations “addressing the move to politics,” but a post-conflict conception of these principles can provide “needed authority” guiding “situations of heightened political fragmentation.” Id. This State-Security model is predicated on the transitional justice tenet of non-recurrence achieved through proactive community engagement by the police force at a local level.  34Stone, supra note 9. Through its employment of this approach, Nicaragua has emerged as an outlier in terms of its crime statistics, which result from policing practices guided by both its internal culture and community outreach.  35Crime in Latin America, supra note 12. While developed in an evolving transitional period, this methodology should be considered in other applications given local gang and community contexts that extend beyond the traditional “transitional” period.

A. The Rise of Youth Gangs

In Central America, youth gangs,  36Youth gangs are defined by members ranging between twelve and twenty-four years of age. Seelke, supra note 26, at 1–2. like the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18, are instigators of systemic violence.  37Id. at 5–7. “Youth gangs” is the most encompassing term as there is no “universally accepted definition” of what constitutes a “gang” amongst law enforcement agencies; therefore, in surveys, agencies are asked to identify “a group of youths or young adults in your jurisdiction that you or other responsible persons in your agency or community are willing to identify as a ‘gang.’” Also “youth” is not synonymous with “juvenile.” National Youth Gang Survey Analysis, Nat’l Gang Ctr., https://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/Survey-Analysis (last visited Sept. 14, 2017). Disagreement exists as to the scope of violence attributable to these gangs, with regional estimates ranging from 10%-60%.  38Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 1. Further clouding these numbers is the fact that not all gangs are cataloged equally, leading to two distinct classifications in Central America: pandillas and maras39Seelke, supra note 26, at 3. Grasping the nuanced distinction between these two classifications is critical, as the dichotomy has resulted in disparate governmental responses driven by societal perceptions.  40The Mano Dura approach rose to prominence as a response to the mara ascendency, while Nicaragua’s community-oriented approach is lauded for the very reason that it has excluded mara gangs from its borders. Reyes, supra note 3.

Gang culture in Central American society has entrenched itself as a “persistent social phenomenon” constantly evolving from its inception in the urban modernization of the 1940s.  41Dennis Rodgers, Nicaragua’s Gangs: Historical Legacy or Contemporary Symptom?, N. Am. Cong. on Latin Am., https://nacla.org/article/nicaragua%25E2%2580%2599s-gangs-historical-legacy-or-contemporary-symptom (last visited Sept. 14, 2017). The emergence of modern gangs in the region can be traced to the end of the conflicts of the 1990s when former guerillas found themselves “facing situations of heightened uncertainty, insecurity, and socio-economic flux” upon returning to civilian life.  42Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 6. These former freedom fighters, lacking a clear direction or sense of purpose, founded gangs whose structure channeled “traditional organizational vehicle[s] for collective youth action.”  43Id. Pandillas represent the historical notion of gangs in Central America composed of “localized groups that have long been present in the region,” while maras are derived from transnational roots.  44Seelke, supra note 26.

When interviewing members of pandillas across national lines, a single word was used to describe their individual organizations: family.  45José Alberto Rodríguez Bolaños & Jorge Sanabria León, Demoscopía S.A., Maras y Pandillas, Comunidad y Polícia en Centroamérica 14 (2007). This characterization is unsurprising given their roots in collective youth action, which morphed into “local vigilante style self-defense groups.”  46Rodgers, supra note 41, at 2. While it would be easy to write pandillas off as remnants of regional conflicts, this would be neglecting the reality that pandillas are byproducts of the society in which they exist, evolving along with their communities and experiences.  47Id. This community dynamic cannot be stressed enough, as it undergirds the Nicaraguan response. While still drawing from pandilla culture, the maras combine influences that span local communities and shared societal experiences, leading to their disparate treatment.  48Id. at 4 (terming their origins as stemming from a “unique transnational development”).

While the origin of the term mara is one that has emerged as a result of convoluted and sometimes inconsistent designations, its source can be traced to El Salvador.  49Anika Oettler, The Central American Fear of Youth, 5 (2) Int’l J. Conflict & Violence, 261, 266 (2011).Maras brought their violence and culture home with them upon their return from abroad rather than forming organically following domestic conflict.  50Rodgers, supra note 41, at 2–3. (It is worth noting that, while Northern Triangle refugees gravitated to the West Coast where MS-13 and 18th Street [Barrio 18] were born, Nicaraguan immigrants were concentrated in Costa Rica and Miami, which did not suffer from the same gang dynamic). Stone, supra note 9. This transnational component has been mapped to the expulsion of 200,000 individuals who were deported from the United States between 1998 and 2005, roughly a quarter of whom were convicted criminals.  51Rodgers, supra note 41, at 2. Following the 1996 passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, 46,000 convicts were deported for any conviction resulting in a sentence of one year or more. Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 7. Among this criminal contingent of deportees were members of the 18th Street Gang, which was founded by Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles, that expanded rapidly by recruiting Salvadoran and Guatemalan refugees.  52Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 7. The 18th Street gang recruited members to fight turf wars with its rival (and also potentially a spin-off) gang, MS-13.  53Id. (explaining the origin of the word “MS” [Mara Salvatrucha] as a “combination of salvadoreńo and trucha, meaning ‘quick thinking’ or ‘shrewd’ in Salvadoran slang”). As deportees arrived home, their Americanized gang culture did not supplant local pandilla culture. Rather, their culture incorporated aspects of both traditions, creating the maras, which are now pervasive in the Northern Triangle countries (composed of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador).  54Rodgers, supra note 41. This transnational component has resulted in the importation of transnational policing techniques specifically “inspired—in ideational as well as in practical terms —by New York City-style zero-tolerance policing.”  55Müller, supra note 2, at 709. In the eyes of a “growing number of observers,” maras have transcended the scope of traditional gangs and are seen as a “new urban insurgency.”  56Id. at 697. Given this classification, it is not surprising that the term “war,” rather than policing, describes state responses to maras57Id. at 696. In spite of this transnational or globalized influence, it has been argued that pandillas are actually more representative, globally speaking, of “youth gangsterism” than the maras58Rodgers, supra note 41, at 4 (This distinction potentially makes lessons learned from pandilla engagement [i.e. Nicaragua] more widely applicable outside of the region).

Focusing on Central America, the State Department has estimated that mara membership in the Northern Triangle numbers as high as 85,000,  59Silva Mathema, They are Refugees: An Increasing Number of People are Fleeing Violence in the Northern Triangle, Ctr. for Am. Progress (Feb. 24, 2016), https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2016/02/24/131645/they-are-refugees-an-increasing-number-of-people-are-fleeing-violence-in-the-northern-triangle/. while the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has placed that same regional number at close to 500,000.  60Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 4. As a result of this data, within the context of violence and diaspora, Central American nations have implemented programs to combat both violence and immigration trends, targeting the youth gangs seen as a root cause of this “refugee-like” crisis.  61Seelke, supra note 26. These programs have received heightened scrutiny following the passage of a Central America border control agreement, enabling the visa-less passage between citizens of Northern Triangle countries and their neighbor to the south, Nicaragua.  62Stone, supra note 9. It was feared that unrestricted flow of individuals would inevitably allow for the movement of gang members and the accompanying exportation of violence and displacement that had become endemic in the Northern Triangle.  63Id. To date, Nicaragua remains mara free.  64Reyes, supra note 3.

Meanwhile, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have seen spiking homicide rates that have oscillated between twenty-four and eighty homicides per 100,000 inhabitants over the last decade, with El Salvador’s surging past one hundred homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015.  65Seelke, supra note 26, at 6; see also Ramirez, supra note 1, at 15 (charting homicide rates in Central America between 1996 and 2012); see generally Orlando J. Pérez, Gang Violence and Insecurity in Contemporary Central AmericaBulletin Of Latin American Research 32, 217–34 (2013) (Homicide rates are the most reliable indicator of violence given that homicides rarely go unreported). While academics dispute the percentage shares of violence attributable to gangs,  66Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 1; see also Cruz, supra note 8, at 25 (positing that maras are merely “scapegoats for insecurity and justified draconian state responses,” shifting the burden of violence from gangs to state actors). government responses have not suffered from such equivocation.  67Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 179. These Central American countries have adopted some form of reactionary measures in response to what is seen as a “destabilizing menace, more immediate than any conventional or guerilla war.”  68Id. This characterization emerged during a regional summit of heads of Central American states. Id. at 180. However, their efforts have not yielded Nicaragua’s results.  69Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 4 (“These qualitative studies also highlight the fact that there is great diversity among countries in the region. At this writing, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are clearly experiencing much greater levels of gang violence than Costa Rica and Nicaragua.”). Further, Northern Triangle policies mirror U.S. techniques, presenting a regional analogue that enables comparison of policies within the region for analysis outside of its borders.  70See generally Müller, supra note 2, at 709–10.

Gang violence is not purely a Central American problem; between 2009 and 2012, gangs in the United States added 400,000 members to their roles, an increase of forty percent.  712011 National Gang Threat Assessment, FBI, https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment (last visited Sept. 14, 2017). This statistic is of particular importance given that these gangs are responsible for an average of forty-eight percent of violent crime and up to ninety percent in some jurisdictions.  72Id. Further, MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang are expanding faster than other national gangs, and, given their “transnational” component, U.S. responses have focused not only at home but also abroad.  73Müller, supra note 2, at 715. The Mérida Initiative, “the largest multi-year U.S. foreign aid and security package,” prioritized the gang problem by naming it one of its four pillars.  74Id. Critics have described this approach as constituting the “[re]production of US-American state sovereignty . . . ‘focused on countering territorial contamination and transgression;’” however, examining statistics both at home and abroad demonstrates that this approach is not producing the intended results and space exists for an alternative approach.  75Id. Violence statistics in countries containing maras have in fact risen significantly since 2007. See Seelke, supra note 26, at 1, 14; 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, supra note 71.

B. U.S. Police Culture in Context of Gang Violence

In the United States, the concept of community-oriented policing rose to prominence in the 1990s and was characterized by the development of a close working relationship between community members and police officers.  76Ungar & Arias, supra note 7 (discussing the origins of community-oriented policing as it was exported to Latin America). This response was one of several stimulated by 200 distinct recommendations in a report compiled by commissioners selected by President Johnson, who were charged with investigating the state of Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice in America.  77Nicholas de Katzenbach et al., Foreword to The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society, A Report by the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice (1967) (intending to understand more “about those who commit, about those who are its victims, and about what can be done to reduce it” to create a “safer and more just society”). Community-oriented policing was, in part, a legacy of problem-oriented policing (POP), a direct result of the commission’s report that shaped a new organizational structure termed the Professional Model.  78The Professional Model was characterized by updating departments and reorganizing them according to a rigid hierarchical structure which was characterized by three tactics: “(1) Motorized patrol, (2) rapid response to calls for service, and (3) retrospective investigation of crimes.” Mark Moore, Robert Trojanowicz & George Kelling, Crime and Policing, Nat’l Inst. Just. (1988). Acting within the constraints of this professionalization, community-oriented policing emphasized patrolling and interacting with the community in order to proactively police these communities, as opposed to focusing on reacting to crimes after they had occurred.  79Ungar & Arias, supra note 7. Problem-oriented policing on the other hand simply sought feedback from citizens in order to “help them identify and solve problems in their own communities,” a backward-looking approach that was confronted by community policing. Moore, Trojanowicz & Kelling supra note 78, at 3. Community policing identified that it was the general fear of being bothered by disorderly actors that enabled police visibility to elevate the perceived level of public order.  80James Q. Wilson & George L. Kelling, Broken Windows; The Police and Neighborhood Safety, Atlantic Monthly 29, 32 (1982) (Interestingly, in 1982, data did not support the concept of community-oriented policing as an effective way of cutting street crime as harm was not equated with fear but rather disorder). However, these interactions with and within the community will only function with community buy-in; otherwise, patrols simply produce presence, not results.  81Tom Tyler, The Paradox of American Policing: Performance without Legitimacy, Dispatch, July 2010, http://cops.usdoj.gov/html/dispatch/July_2010/AmericanPolicing.asp. The community must perceive the intent of police behavior as being driven by a sense of community cooperation to address jointly identified problems and not by the threat of punishment.  82This legitimacy can only be developed when it is the “fairness of police behavior–not the fear of police force and the threat of punishment–[that] creates legitimacy, and through it drives public actions.” Id. While these concepts were being introduced in police forces across the United States, extrinsic factors led to legislation that shifted police strategies in order to deal with new realities.

California, in response to the nationally televised Rodney King riots, led the way in 1992 with the implementation of strict measures meant to crack down on gang violence.  83These riots “heavily involved” both the 18th Street Gang and the Mara Salavatrucha and were part of the impetus behind the passing of these toughened laws. Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 7. A signature provision in this legislation granted prosecutors the ability to charge minors as adults, resulting in prison terms for hundreds of underage members of mara gangs.  84Id. This cohort would form part of the nearly 200,000 individuals who were deported as a result of the congressional passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.  85Id. at 6. This was the same group that would form the transnational component of the mara gangs in the Northern Triangle. Rodgers, supra note 41, at 2. The implementation of this legislation prompted an analogous national trend in police culture.

A corresponding movement towards the militarization of police forces, paralleling these stricter laws, became a key component of zero-tolerance policing.  86 Matthew T. DeMichele & Peter B. Kraska, Community Policing in Battle Garb, in Militarizing the American Criminal Justice System: The Changing Roles of the Armed Forces and the Police 82, 88–89 (Peter B. Kraska ed., UPNE 2001). In order to enforce this type of mandate, there was a greater emphasis on—or in some cases, the creation of—police paramilitary units (PPUs) and SWAT teams.  87 Id. at 83. Police forces that had been associated with a community policing model implemented these militarized components that were irreconcilable with a community-oriented approach.  88Id. at 88–89. This disconnect was further reinforced within these departments by creating specialized gang units whose focus was reactionary, eschewing traditional community- and problem-oriented policing practices.  89Katz & Webb, supra note 14, at 321. Anecdotally, a precinct lieutenant described his gang unit’s use of community policing as follows: “[Y]es, from a standpoint that there is liaison and they are dealing with the internal customers, mainly patrol officers, yes. No, from the standpoint that they are not solving problems long term, they are solving them short term . . . the short-term reactionary issues.” Id. at 424. The centralized gang unit response, as it currently functions, is incompatible with community policing given its emphasis on decentralization and lack of community involvement.  90Id. at 396. Based on multi-site studies, when gang officers do partner with the community, their singular goal is to access information, not the “co-production of public safety.”  91 Id. at 475. This contradiction, created by gang units within departments committed to community policing, can only be understood in the context of abstract and inclusive definitions extended to modern community-oriented policing.  92For example, broad-ranging definitions of community-oriented policing models have described portions of the Professional Model, the “broken windows” approach, and even a “governmentality” approach. See generally DeMichele & Kraska, supra note 86. Given this ambiguity and these divergent concepts across jurisdictions,  93See generally id. a space exists both abroad and at home to determine the essential nature of these various programs as they are informed by the goals of transitional justice exemplified by Nicaragua’s approach.

C. Regional Responses to Gang Violence

One of the more prevalent approaches in Central America employs “mano dura” (directly translated as “heavy hand”), which has become the catch-all term for militarized approaches aimed at addressing the surging violence in the region.  94Preciado, supra note 10; see also José Miguel Cruz, The Root Causes of the Central American Crisis, 114 Current History, Feb. 2015, at 43, 47 [hereinafter “The Root Causes”]. Other program names demonstrate the same commitment to repression as evidenced by “the Broom Plan, the Zero Tolerance Plan, the Hard Hand Plan and the Super Hard Hand Plan.” Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 162. These approaches are intended to deter “anti-social behaviors” in specific neighborhoods through the use of what can only be called “aggressive tactics.”  95Oettler, supra note 49, at 273; see Müller supra note 2, at 712 (describing the analogous “tough on crime approach” imported from the United States). These approaches track the U.S. concept of zero-tolerance policing and provide a counterpoint to the Nicaraguan model, notwithstanding that their histories reflect many of the same transitional antecedents Nicaragua experienced.  96DeMichele & Kraska, supra note 86, at 84; see, e.g., Müller, supra note 2, at 705, 709 (describing civil gang injunctions in the U.S. which closely track the “anti-social behaviors” targeted by Northern Triangle governments).

In El Salvador, where there were nine murders per day by 2014,  97Seelke, supra note 26. these strategies resulted in 2,438 arrests just for having signature gang tattoos and wearing particular clothing styles.  98Oettler, supra note 49, at 261. These arrests were short lived as the original mano dura plan was struck down in El Salvador for violating UN Rights of the Child conventions. Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30. This crackdown stemmed from the criminalization of petty crimes and social disobedience, signaling the commitment of El Salvador to purging themselves of the maras99Preciado, supra note 10, at 3–4. The seriousness of the government’s intent was reinforced by the operations’ assignment to military units rather than the police force.  100Id. Further cementing its commitment to militarization, El Salvador introduced Operation New Dawn in 2009, officially assigning forty percent of its military force to public security matters.  101Matt Budd, Countering Militarised Public Security in Latin America: Lessons from Nicaragua, Sustainable Security (Nov. 12, 2013), https://sustainablesecurity.org/2013/11/12/community-policing-in-nicaragua/. This delegation of traditional police operations to the military was not unique to El Salvador. Guatemala codified the role of their military in police action through the Protocol for Inter-institutional Action102Id. In this capacity, 4,000 soldiers were deployed in “troubled neighborhoods in Guatemala City.” Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 178. Honduras emphasized this entwinement of their military and police forces in the public security domain by vesting police authority in the Ministry of Defense, establishing the Military Police of Public Order.  103Budd, supra note 101. “This collaboration extended to joint urban patrolling, sometimes even using tanks.” Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 178. Nicaragua, on the other hand, implemented a different community-centered approach.

D. Nicaragua’s Approach To Gang Violence: In Context of National Police

In order to understand the distinct police culture and the relationship with the community, it is imperative to place the analysis of Nicaraguan programs in the context of its history.  104As Ralph Waldo Emerson opined, all history is subjective in the mind of each individual; but, by placing facts in context, we can attempt to understand the development of the Nicaraguan security apparatus. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Collected Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, History, Easton Press 5 (1962). This history, like that of its neighbors, is riddled with transitions between governments facilitated by violence, yet did not result in the implementation of mano dura methods. Following nearly two decades of civil war, a peace agreement was negotiated in 1990 between the Sandinistas and the Contras.  105Preciado, supra note 10, at 44. Armed gangs emerged from the ranks of both sides following the ceasefire.  106Id. at 45.

These pandillas formed a natural extension for returning soldiers as it provided the opportunity to continue “serving and protecting friends, families, and local communities in a post-war context marked by heightened political polarization and spiraling insecurity.”  107Rodgers, supra note 41, at 3 (internal quotations omitted).Pandillas traced their roots to this context of security and neighborhood order.  108Id. The first part of the 2000s, however, shifted their focus from providing security and order to illicit dealings that traded on the cachet of threats and violence.  109Id. This shift mirrors the violence endemic in mara dominated Northern Triangle countries. Seelke, supra note 26, at 6. This development can be understood through the broader lens of Nicaragua’s transformation to a neoliberal economic model in which a cohort of young Nicaraguans lacking education or trade skills found themselves unemployed, as sectors that traditionally had required labor-intensive work were modernized.  110Rodgers, supra note 41, at 3. This dearth of available jobs pushed this younger generation into gangs which lacked the soldiering background that pandillas drew from following the peace accords in 1990. Id. This economic insecurity is often mentioned in the U.S. context, where, in response to drivers of gang affiliation, one gang officer perceived that “[p]art of that, I’m sure, is socio-economic.” Katz & Webb, supra note 14, at 321. While the pandillas were transforming, the Nicaraguan National Police was developing responses geared towards the realities of this new status quo.

The Nicaraguan National Police traces its origins to the 1979 Fundamental Statute of the Republic (FSLN), which created the first security institution distinct from the Army following the Sandinista transition from the Somoza dictatorship.  111Ramirez, supra note 1, at 32. Internal, as well as international political pressure following the end of hostilities between the Sandinistas and the Contras, forced the National Police to move beyond its origins in the Sandinista revolution.  112This is indicative of the underlying trend of constant reform. Id. at 34 (This pressure “to eliminate its historic links to the FSLN” was the catalyst that spurred the definition of the force’s “institutional purpose.”). In order to break with this tradition rooted in the Sandinista party structure, the Organic Law of 1996 was implemented, which reformulated the institution and “guaranteed a non-partisan nature.”  113 Id. While the non-partisan nature of the police force is touted following the enactment of the 1996 law, Director Granera was previously Chief of Staff for the Interior Ministry during the first Sandinista regime and credits her decision to participate in the new force as one made after deciding “not [to] hand[] my rifle over to someone who will use it against my people.” Id. Additionally, the strengthening of security institutions has been attributed to the Sandinistas following the transition in order to “legitimate” their role post-1990. Cruz, supra note 8, at 25. Following this rebranding, the National Police underwent a series of five-year plans, constantly reshaping and adapting its structure.  114Seelke, supra note 26, at 13; See Policía Nacional, Sistematización del Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo de Nicaragua, 38 (2011). [hereinafter Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo].

Throughout this continuous transformation, Nicaragua’s police force has remained the least funded force in the Northern Triangle.  115The Root Causes, supra note 94, at 47. Paradoxically, this police force is, in the words of its director, “the smallest police force in Central America, with the lowest salaries, but with the best results of any in the region.”  116Tim Johnson, Nicaragua’s Top Cop, Who Once Wanted to Be a Nun, Fends Off Drug Gangs, McClatchey Hyde DC (Nov. 15, 2011), http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article24718984.html. There are a number of metrics that support this assertion. For example, the most recent numbers available place Nicaragua’s homicide rates at eight per 100,000 inhabitants, the lowest such statistic in the region.  117Reyes, supra note 3 (other indicators of security are also analyzed in this Comment). Another indicator, which can be related more directly to youth gangs, is the shocking statistic that in a country of over six million inhabitants there are only seventy juveniles in custody.  118Eyder Peralta, With a Soft Approach on Gangs, Nicaragua Eschews Violence, NPR (Oct. 28, 2014), http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2014/10/28/359612148/with-a-soft-approach-on-gangs-nicaragua-eschews-violence. Programs that may influence this number will be discussed in greater depth in the analysis of Nicaragua’s programs, specifically those of their Juvenile Affairs division. Seelke, supra note 26, at 13. This division “runs at least two anti-gang activities a month,” which focus on preventative and rehabilitative techniques through involvement in “family, school and community interventions.” Id.

Nicaraguan results represent a marked departure from those stemming from mano dura techniques employed in Northern Triangle countries and in analogous forms in the United States. The foregoing analysis will distinguish unique features of Nicaragua’s juvenile justice program that relies on: (1) political commitment to reform, (2) community involvement, (3) restorative justice through education and rehabilitation, and (4) public legitimacy. The Nicaraguan approach will be sharpened by the counterpoint provided by U.S. and regional responses to gang problems. These best practices are exportable, and U.S. policies should be tailored to these practices, resulting in a return to the historical concept of community policing.

II. Analysis of the Problem

While the United States may have developed modern community-oriented policing strategies, Nicaragua created a version adapted to its own specific needs that continues to be shaped by constant reform targeted at non-recurrence.  119This continuous process can be seen through the implementation of successive five-year plans in an effort to constantly improve best practices and adapt to realties of changing dynamics. Seelke, supra note 26, at 13; See also Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo supra note 114, at 38. This process is anything but stagnant and requires political commitment to continuous reform.  120See generally Seelke, supra note 26, at 13 (describing successive five-year plans). Confronted with the ambiguous and seemingly paradoxical application of community-oriented policing models worldwide, Nicaragua’s practices have the potential to inform a broader understanding of community-oriented policing. The lessons learned from this period of transition should not be confined to situations defined by transition but rather to any community that would benefit from the implementation of similar programs tailored to their specific situations on the ground. This application provides timely knowledge that should inform practices in the United States where social action groups have advanced the argument that “militarization of police departments further erodes the trust that should exist between residents and the police,” highlighting a disconnect between citizens and their police forces.  121Tyler, supra note 81.

The term “community policing” is inherently subjective, holding different meanings for each jurisdiction shaped by local conditions and relationships.  122For an overview of different uses of the term “community policing” within different State applications, see Rao, supra note 13, at 1–6. For the purposes of this Section, it will refer to its most basic concept—“policing in partnership with the community.”  123Id. at 1. While violence in Central America is undoubtedly the product of many factors,  124Cruz, supra note 8, at 25. the culture of Nicaragua’s National Police and its engagement and partnership with the community, codified as a result of political commitment to reform, is a distinct practice.  125Crime in Latin America, supra note 12. In Nicaragua, security gains targeted at addressing problems stemming from pandillas have simultaneously precluded the importation of mara violence endemic in the Northern Triangle.  126Stone, supra note 9.

While programs like mano dura are overwhelmingly popular with their corresponding populations, human rights abuses identified by the U.S. State Department and violations of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC),  127Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 178–79 (describing the striking down of Salvadoran approaches in contravention of the CRC). compounded by a lack of reduction in rates of violence, point to a need for an alternative approach.  128In the years following the implementation of these approaches, there was actually a spike in violence, leading to the theory that it was, in fact, State-sponsored violence, which begat more violence while also obfuscating the State’s role in the violence itself. Cruz, supra note 8, at 25–26. The United States is facing a similar problem compounded by social perceptions that stem from a lack of trust between the community and its officers.  129Tyler, supra note 81. The militarization of police forces typified by mano dura approaches has not provided answers to these dilemmas. Similarly, the CRC only provides standards that signatories agree not to violate but does not provide avenues through which to protect their populations while simultaneously protecting the rights established by the convention.  130See generally National Juvenile Justice Network [NJJN], The Convention on the Rights of the Child: Implications for Juvenile Justice Reform, Fact Sheet, at 2 (Mar. 2010). One solution operating within the constraints of the convention can be illustrated by the Nicaraguan approach through “inclusive and cooperative processes.”  131Sarah Westerlund & Marlene Widenbladh, The Rural Judicial Facilitators Program in Nicaragua–an Exemplary Model of Restorative Justice?, MFS-report No. 43, UMEÅ University Department of Law, p. 14. (Mar. 3, 2007). These processes can be understood in the context of their four key components: (1) political commitment to reform, (2) community involvement, (3) restorative justice through education and rehabilitation, and (4) public legitimacy.

A. A Softer Approach

Rather than mano dura, Nicaraguan programs have taken a less combative approach,  132The point has been made that these approaches might be “softer” in nature given the lesser level of violence exhibited by pandillas. Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 179. But see Rodgers, supra note 41, at 6–7 (describing the nature of the pandillas as more representative of “youth gangsterism,” a distinction which potentially makes lessons learned from pandilla engagement more widely applicable outside of the region). which is reflected even in the branding of their programs. Names include the “Bethlehem Plan” and the “Beach Plan.”  133Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 162. Rather than criminalizing behaviors that resulted in the mass incarceration of youth gang members  134For example, following the implementation of hard line approaches, El Salvador’s “incarcerated population has doubled over the past five years.” Id. at 178; see also Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 7 (describing the crackdown following the Rodney King riots). in contravention of the CRC,  135See Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 178–79. Nicaragua has taken a restorative approach to juvenile justice.  136See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 38 (understanding the program as written). This is not a “soft form of justice” offering impunity to the perpetrators of violence, but rather a constant reform of an institution, guided by transitional justice mechanisms in the hopes of perpetuating justice by preventing recurrences of violence.  137This concept of transition in post-conflict settings comes about “as a result of generalized social conflict in which, among other factors, there is a plethora of violent agents,” a situation that Nicaragua is proactively combatting through preventative approaches in an attempt to promote non-recurrence. de Greiff, supra note 4, ¶ 19, 20. This approach is characterized by community engagement informed by efforts targeted at non-recurrence achieved through institutional reform.  138See Ley No. 872, supra note 4. These measures are promulgated by a clear and continuous political commitment to reform.  139See id. These reforms prioritize community involvement, providing for the implementation of restorative justice programs that confer public legitimacy.  140See generally Crime in Latin America, supra note 12; see also Tyler, supra note 81. This approach is reflected in the development of the Nicaraguan National Police’s youth programs. The National Police breaks its initiatives into four distinct time periods: (1) 1970-1998, (2) the mid-1990s, (3) 1999-2003, and (4) post-2004.  141See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 38–39.

During the first period, the Nicaraguan assembly promulgated the “Ley Tutelar de Menores” regulating the relationship between youth, their families, and the State.  142Id. at 38. Within this context, the Department of Evaluation of Minors was established, whose stated mission was to rehabilitate adolescents rather than incarcerate them.  143Specifically, this program sought to rehabilitate adolescents who suffered from addictions and had run-ins with the law in order to “correct” behaviors rather than punish. See id. In the second phase, the National Police placed the interest of the child first, undertaking programs that involved the participation of churches, local leaders, and family members, including them in the broader dialogue.  144See id. This type of community involvement is demonstrative of the legitimacy conferred through meaningful partnership with the community.  145This legitimacy can only be developed when it is the “fairness of police behavior–not the fear of police force and the threat of punishment–[that] creates legitimacy and through it drives public actions.” Tyler, supra note 81, at 2. These programs have been criticized as political instruments used to strengthen the current political leadership, necessitating the clarification of the line between political support and control.  146Peralta, supra note 118. A metric related to community involvement divorced from this specter of political subterfuge is the public trust in police leadership given the personal tension between President Ortega and Director Granera.  147Stone, supra note 9 (describing political promotions, the current Director’s Sandinista ties, and WikiLeaks cables demonstrating political intrigue). Director Granera sits atop the list of twenty-six Nicaraguan public officials with an approval rating of eighty-seven percent.  148Johnson, supra note 116.

Social action groups in the United States have not conferred this level of legitimacy on their police forces, as evinced by their position that the “militarization of police departments further erodes the trust that should exist between residents and the police.”  149 Turning Back the Tide: Promising Efforts to Demilitarize Police Departments, Pol’y Link Advancement Project (Apr. 2015) https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55b673c0e4b0cf84699bdffb/t/55b85c4fe4b044c6d34683d8/1438145615746/PL_BCC_DEMIL_POLICE_DEPT_04292015_rev.pdf. Director Granera credits her department’s multidisciplinary approach to policing for her success but emphasizes community involvement, not militarization, as its greatest strength.  150Stone, supra note 9 (summarizing her model as one that is “preventative, proactive, communitarian, deeply rooted in the heart of the community”); see also Crime in Latin America, supra note 12 (pointing out the unique feature of the recruitment process, which requires community approval for each academy recruit, potentially serving as a driver for community engagement and buy-in). One department in which this community involvement is stressed is in the Department of Juvenile Justice.  151See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo supra note 114, at 39.

Through this community partnership, the National Police realized the value in continuing to shift its focus from reactive measures to preventative measures and educational outreach.  152See id. at 38. Building on the second phase, which emphasizes youth involvement, phase three saw the modernization of the police force and the creation of the Juvenile Affairs Division, which focuses on the dynamics of violence aimed at understanding risk factors that would identify youths prone to violence and gang affiliation in order to rehabilitate them.  153See id. The fourth phase culminated in 2004 with the introduction of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (DARE) program as well as Nicaragua’s signature “No Violence Program.”  154See id.

The preventative approach that was in place post-2004 utilizes a three-level continuum to rank youths according to risk levels before tailoring outreach programs to specific needs.  155See id. at 40. Level 1 includes all youths who are given information that pertains to education and social interactions through outreach programs, like DARE.  156See id. Level 2 includes juveniles struggling with drugs or violent behavior.  157See id. Diagnostics and psychological help are sought for this group, with the hope that, along with familial support, problems can be addressed, allowing for the integration of the child as a contributing member of the community.  158See id. Level 3 involves juveniles identified as participating in gang activity or having other criminal histories, which puts them in the highest risk category.  159See id.

In response to this highest risk category, the Juvenile Affairs Division developed a holistic process informed by the Nicaraguan National Assembly’s promulgation of El Código de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, whose stated purpose is to put the interests of the adolescent first.  160See id. This goal is also in keeping with the UN in Rights of the Child Convention. National Juvenile Justice Network [NJJN], supra note 130, at 2. In this endeavor, “community” is a term that pervades every step of the process.  161 See generally Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 39. Through partnerships with the community, neighborhoods are reviewed in coordination with local stakeholders, and individuals are identified who fall into this highest risk category.  162See id. Once at-risk youth have been identified, they are not arrested; rather, their familial and community relationships are evaluated to produce a psychosocial assessment.  163See id. at 40. This decision to first pursue rehabilitation in partnership with the community not only reinforces public perception of “fairness of police behavior” as opposed to “the fear of police force and the threat of punishment,” but also results in “legitimacy and through it drives public actions.”  164Tyler, supra note 81. Integrative methods are then sought to involve the youth in community events while stressing the importance of social relationships.  165See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 40–41.

Following this introductory vetting phase, the youth is offered a place at the national trade school in return for a pledge before his or her community to commit to non-violence.  166See id. at 41 (understanding the program as written). Upon graduation from this seven-track technical program, partner corporations employ the former gang members.  167See id. This re-integration into the community demonstrates a full cycle of a Juvenile Justice initiative, which is credited in large part for Nicaragua’s low violence statistics and the incarceration of a mere seventy youths in the entire country.  168Peralta, supra note 118. While these numbers are impressive, criticism has ascribed success to manifold factors.

Critics of the Nicaraguan system have posited that the decline in gang violence is “short term” and the efforts of government organizations and NGOs suffer from a lack of funding.  169Richard Maclure & Melvin Sotelo, Youth Social Capital Formation in Nicaragua, 22 Int’l J. of Children’s Rts. 385, 404 (2014). This is a difficult concept to square with legislation codifying these principles in Nicaraguan law  170See generally Ley No. 872, supra note 4. and the long-term statistics supporting the efficacy of the Nicaraguan model in spite of a lack of funding.  171Seelke, supra note 26, at 13. This criticism would be better directed at other Latin American countries that all have chronically underfunded “crime prevention” bodies (as are their rehabilitation programs) but have not experienced the same drops in violence that Nicaragua has been able to achieve on a national level.  172Id. at 13. While funding plays a role, political capital outside of Nicaragua has been spent on militarization rather than community-centered reforms.  173Stone, supra note 9.

Other criticisms have ascribed Nicaragua’s enviable statistics not to any particularly successful program, but simply to institutional factors that distinguish it from its neighbors.  174José Miguel Cruz, Democratization Under Assault: Criminal Violence in Post-Transition Central America 173 (2010) [hereinafter “Democratization Under Assault”]. Specifically, critics argue Nicaragua’s institutionalization of its National Police force was not hobbled by “elements of the old regime” and was able to evade “public accountability” resulting from “political agreements” in the Northern Triangle.  175Id. at 172. Holdovers from prior regimes were able to exploit state institutions maintaining holds on the levers of power, perpetuating extralegal violence.  176Id. at 161. This is a tenuous claim given the “highly-charged atmosphere of Nicaraguan politics.”  177Stone, supra note 9. The institutionalization and professionalization of the police force are the very reasons Nicaragua’s model should be exported to the United States. Further, the police force—especially its leadership structure—has a degree of stability not present in the Northern Triangle, but which is endemic in the professionalized U.S. system.  178Id. There is, however, one glaring impediment to this analogy.

The most difficult concept to square with democratic governance is a vestige of what can only be described as a Stasi-esque state security model. The Nicaraguan government has promulgated “Citizen Security” legislation that codifies the goals of the police force while empowering citizens.  179Ley No. 872, supra note 4. To this end, Social Prevention of Crime Committees have been formed along with Cabinets of Citizen Power, which “provide a direct link with the community.”  180Budd, supra note 101, at 4 (numbering 40,000 members and 143 Cabinets respectively). While these types of programs have been criticized as having been “crafted as political tools,”  181Peralta, supra note 118. the underlying concept is nonetheless laudable and further demonstrates a political commitment to reform. It would be naïve not to express concern, given the structure of the cabinets and the presidential link to the cabinet and the police force.  182Stone, supra note 9. However, the past three years have assuaged these fears, and the takeaway has shifted from the structure of the system to the intent behind it. This intent should be understood as involving the population in its own security system by integrating its engagement with the police force.

While Nicaragua may not be able to export its neighborhood watch, political reform conducive to the underlying trust between the community and police force presents an exportable community policing model aimed at combatting youth gang violence. It is political commitment to community involvement in restorative justice programs that promotes the public legitimacy that Nicaragua’s neighbors and the United States desperately need.

While their neighbors have “pared down to little more than monthly meetings,”  183Ungar & Arias, supra note 7, at 3. Nicaragua has focused its police force on “targeting the social conditions that cause” crime and developed “conditions which reduce it.”  184Budd, supra note 101, at 4 (focusing specifically on “juvenile justice and intra-family or sexual violence”). Nicaragua and its neighbors are populated by an overwhelming percentage of citizens who recognize crime as a threat to their “[n]ation’s well-being.”  185Finding upwards of seventy-four percent of Central American residents perceived this threat. Orlando J. Pérez, Gang Violence and Insecurity in Contemporary Central America, 32 J. Soc’y Latin Am. Stud. 217, 220 (2013). Rather than addressing fear through community policing, Northern Triangle countries implemented problem-oriented approaches that relied on military coordination.  186Budd, supra note 101, at 2. These approaches mirror the gang-unit approach undertaken by many U.S. jurisdictions, where the most commonly used measures are described by agencies as targeted patrols and specialized “gang units.”  187Seventy-six percent of agencies surveyed used targeted patrolas while sixty-four percent had established a gang unit or assigned a gang officer. Arlen Egley, Jr., et al., Highlights of the 2012 National Youth Gang Survey, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, https://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/248025.pdf. These techniques typically focus on suppression tactics, which were once the most prevalent tactic in the United States but were “frequently viewed as the least effective.”  188Suppression tactics generally describe “arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of gang members.” Eric Fritsch et al., Gang Suppression Through Saturation Patrol, Aggressive Curfew, and Truancy Enforcement: A Quasi-Experimental Test of the Dallas Anti-Gang Initiative, 45(1) Crime and Delinquency 122, 122 (1999). This method has remained popular not because of its effectiveness in local jurisdictions, but rather as a result of “mimetic processes” targeted at creating “institutional legitimacy,” rather than tailoring programs to “environmental contingencies.”  189Agencies simply adopted programs modeled on those that had been perceived as successful. Katz & Webb, supra note 14, at 479.

One of the most copied programs was that of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), whose Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) unit “became a national model.”  190Id. at 2–3. While “community” figures prominently in the CRASH acronym, its operations were characterized by “decisively and aggressively” executed operations that, in a single year, yielded upwards of 25,000 arrests for “the slightest infractions.”  191Id. at 2. This mindset won national acclaim, yet a mere ten years later CRASH had been disbanded as scandals devastated community trust, making excessive force and extrajudicial enforcement become standard operating procedure.  192Id. at 3. (exposing extrajudicial excessive force, planting of drugs, and all-out war on certain racial groups perceived to be gang members). Short-term crime reductions were achieved through brutal tactics, whose unsustainable practices not only eroded public trust but also failed to achieve long-term reductions in youth gang violence.  193Id. at 2–4. This is where Nicaragua’s experience is most useful when distinguished from its neighbors, where mimetic processes modeled after these hard-line U.S. techniques failed.  194The vernacular “war on transnational street gangs” has led to “US interests in shaping regional politics and order” and the “logic is that crime and violence have overwhelmed local police forces—weak and corrupt to begin with—and therefore the armed forces are necessary for the state to provide security.” Müller, supra note 2, at 697. Rather than short-term gains achieved through aggressive and abrasive tactics, Nicaragua focused on long-term outcomes through policing in partnership with the community.  195See generally Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 38. Further, when neighboring countries have engaged in piecemeal community policing, trials in smaller cities in Guatemala and El Salvador have been successful.  196See Nancy E. Brune, Sustaining Security: Community Policing in the AmericasAmericas Quarterly 112, 113 (2014). Assuming adequate political support, this success has come despite their limited scope and funding, indicating the portability of some form of community model.  197See id. at 112, 117.

While the name or classification of the gang, along with percentages of violence attributable to gangs, may vary from country to country, governments should target the underlying fear through legislation fostering community policing. Problem-oriented policing addresses disorder resulting from crime, not fear.  198Wilson & Kelling, supra note 80. In the United States, this was best characterized in a survey of gang units that found that “underlying” issues were not in the officer’s purview, as the gang units saw their role as purely “reactive in nature—that they were to respond to real problems after they occurred.”  199Katz & Webb, supra note 14, at xv, 14–15. Here, the emphasis on community involvement was simply gathering intelligence that would lead to the resolution of backward-looking investigations.  200Id. Intelligence is a laudable and necessary first step, but simply applying it to backward-looking investigations not only fails to address the root cause of the violence but also limits its value. For example, this limited value is seen in the feedback loop described by an Albuquerque police commander who described his gang unit’s community involvement as it related to intelligence gathering: “We know who they are and what they do, and we communicate with them. But we’re not going to change them . . . they basically say that they are a bad guy and you have got to catch me.”  201Id. at 402. This department identified gang members and engaged with them, but the dialogue could only end in arrest and incarceration. Alternatively, the Nicaraguan approach envisions an outcome where the gang members can be reintegrated into their community as productive members of society.  202See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 38–39.

This same underdeveloped community policing dynamic is seen in Dallas. The Dallas Police Department received a grant in 1996 to implement “Interactive Community Policing.”  203Fritsch et al., supra note 188, at 122. This initiative manifested itself in three main suppression tactics: “aggressive truancy enforcement,” “high visibility patrols,” and “stopping and frisking suspected gang members or other suspicious persons.”  204Id. at 123. This approach does not engage the community in the vein of Nicaraguan partnership but demonstrates the varied application of the community concept.  205DeMichele & Kraska, supra note 86, at 84 Given this wide gap between the U.S. and Nicaraguan models, a return to a conventional standard embodied by Nicaragua’s concept of “policing in partnership with the community,” codified through political commitment, presents a path to restorative rather than retributive justice.  206Rao, supra note 13, at 1.

Like most theories, the abstract appears straightforward, but the reality is more convoluted. The Nicaraguan methodology should not be duplicated. Instead, the intent behind the development of their practices should be considered in the implementation of community-oriented policing practices. Political commitment to reform aimed at codifying a community-focused approach has granted legitimacy in the eyes of the Nicaraguan population while effectively stifling youth gang violence.  207See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 39. In the United States, officers have identified that “[t]he neighborhoods kind of need to protect themselves. I think that has given rise to some of the gang activity.”  208Katz & Webb, supra note 14, at 321. Given this sentiment, why not partner and provide an alternative collective security strategy?  209Id. Policing in partnership has become a catchphrase worldwide, but in Nicaragua it has become more than just a lofty ideal. It has been codified in legislation aimed at policing in partnership with the community.  210See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 39. Reflecting on this development through the lens of transitional justice, the Director of Juvenile Affairs opined, “[t]he repression that we had during the 70s, taught us a lesson,” specifically “that when there is repression, there is a reaction.”  211Peralta, supra note 118.

Conclusion

In our globalizing world, transnational as well as inter-state gang problems will continue to proliferate. However, by focusing on local efforts and sharing best practices, agencies can learn from their peers and gain legitimacy through partnership with the community. No matter the number of arrests, the reality remains that this is not a zero-sum game. Conditions exist which give rise to these gangs, and only through proactive community engagement can they be addressed. No gang problem is the same and responses must be tailored to the individual communities.

A first step has been taken in the United States where gang units gather information on gang activities.  212Katz & Webb, supra note 14, at 13–14. The information has been deployed in backward-looking investigations and gang harassment affected through suppression strategies.  213Id. Building on these information-gathering techniques, the information gathered could be deployed in the vein of the holistic Nicaraguan approach, which engages youth gang members.  214See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 38–39. Whether transnational, local, or inter-state, any juxtaposition of the aforementioned local engagement should begin at the community level. Local engagement with the community will not only enable more efficient intelligence gathering but will also create a relationship where the “fairness of police behavior—not the fear of police force and the threat of punishment—creates legitimacy and through it drives public actions.”  215Tyler, supra note 81. This linkage enables police departments and local communities to address underlying causes of youth gang membership that are specific to their individual communities while realizing simultaneous gains in public perception through transparency, combatting the corrosion of “trust that should exist between residents and the police.”  216 Id.

Reform does not always guarantee success. Indeed, there have been a number of failed efforts to implement community policing practices aimed at addressing gang violence.  217Brune, supra note 196, at 6–8. Nicaragua does not represent a silver bullet guaranteeing success in addressing youth gang violence, but its holistic approach enabled by political commitment to reform demonstrates the practice of theoretical precepts advanced in the United States.  218Katz & Webb, supra note 86, at xvi–xvii. Building on these concepts of “community embeddedness, formal problem solving, and geographic accountability,” gang units will be both more effective and more legitimate.  219Id. Community policing should not refer to an abstract concept but should facilitate these models in practice through continuous community engagement, as demonstrated by Nicaraguan policies. While each iteration of community policing will be different, through continuous reform, undergirded by political commitment to reform, community partnership will combat drivers of youth gang violence. This co-production of security will result in communities in which local, transnational, or any hybrid thereof will be unable to find roots. While there may be a consensus at a “fundamental level” as to the nature of community policing, there are “factors contributing to the divergence of definition” which should attempt to channel Nicaragua’s approach, stressing: (1) political commitment to reform, (2) community involvement, (3) restorative justice through education and rehabilitation, and (4) public legitimacy.  220Rao, supra note 13, at 3.

Footnotes

1Santiago Ramirez, Inter-American Development Bank [IDB], Violence and Crime in Nicaragua: A Country Profile, Discussion Paper, No. IDB-DP-306, 34 (June 2013) (measuring GDP per capita; in terms of real GDP Nicaragua ranks second poorest behind Belize).

2This phenomenon has been described as the “(re)production of US-American state sovereignty through ‘de-territorialized campaigns of public safety’ that are ‘focused on countering territorial contamination and transgression—‘terrorist’, demographic and biological infiltration.’” Markus-Michael Müller, Punitive Entanglements: The War on Gangs and the Making of a Transnational Penal Apparatus in the Americas, 20 Geopolitics 696, 697 (2015).

3Yader Prado Reyes, Primera Comisionada Aminta Granera: En Nicaragua el Pueblo es Protagonista de su Propia Seguridad, El 19 (Sept. 8, 2016), http://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:46168-primera-comisionada-aminta-granera-en-nicaragua-el-pueblo-es-protagonista-de-su-propia-seguridad.

4These programs are targeted at preventing the “recurrence of crises and future violations of human rights, to ensure social cohesion, nation-building, ownership and inclusiveness at the national and local levels and to promote reconciliation.” Pablo de Greiff, Annual Rep. on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence, ¶ 46, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/21/46 (Aug. 9, 2012); see Ruti G. Teitel, Transitional Justice in a New Era, 26 Fordham Int’l L.J. 893 (2002) (describing the backward looking nature of traditional transitional justice). Here, Nicaragua has applied the tenets of non-recurrence through constant reform aimed at ownership and inclusiveness in the community through partnerships at the policing level. See Ley No. 872, 26 June 2014, Ley de Organización, Funciones, Carrera y Régimen Especial de Seguridad Social de la Policía Nacional, [Ley de Bienestar y Seguridad Social] [Wellbeing and Social Security Law] tit. I., ch. II., Art. VII, La Gaceta, Diario Oficial [L.G.], 7 July 2014 (Nicar.) [hereinafter Ley No. 872].

5See Ley No. 872, supra note 4.

6See id.

7Mark Ungar & Enrique Desmond Arias, Reassessing Community-Oriented Policing in Latin America, 22 Policing Soc’y 1, 2 (2012).

8This reactionary response to gang violence, as one author suggests, has led to “more powerful and brutal” gangs as “all-out war” has led to continued violence at unprecedented levels. José Miguel Cruz, Criminal Violence and Democratization in Central America: The Survival of the Violent State, 53 Latin Am. Pol. & Soc’y 1, 26 (2011).

9Hannah Stone, Exporting Nicaragua’s Security Model, Insight Crime (Mar. 9, 2012), http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/exporting-nicaraguas-security-model (summarizing her model as one that is “preventative, proactive, communitarian, deeply rooted in the heart of the community.”).

10See generally Luis E. Preciado, State Approaches Toward Reducing Youth Violence in Honduras and Nicaragua, 3 (2015) (Masters Thesis Naval Postgraduate School).

11Political structure will have to be discussed in the context of Nicaragua and her neighbors to analyze the claim that “references to maras and migration have obscured explanations” of violence in the region and the disparate levels of violence can be explained by State contributions to violence which is evidenced by their “tolerating, encouraging, and even participating in the production of criminal violence.” Cruz, supra note 8, at 25−26.

12 Crime in Latin America: A Broken System, The Economist (July 12, 2014), http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21606864-citizens-security-regions-biggest-problem-time-improve-criminal-justice-broken. [hereinafter Crime in Latin America].

13Sumedh Rao, GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report: Community Policing in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States 3 (2013), http://www.gsdrc.org/docs/open/hdq997.pdf.

14Charles M. Katz & Vincent J. Webb, Police Response to Gangs: A Multi-Site Study 321 (2004), https://cops.usdoj.gov/html/cd_rom/solution_gang_crime/pubs/PoliceResponsetoGangs.pdf.

15Ruti Teitel, who coined the term, defines transitional justice as the “conception of justice associated with periods of political change.” Ruti G. Teitel, Transitional Justice Genealogy, 16 Harv. Hum. Rts. J. 69, 69 (2003).

16Intuitively, to guarantee non-recurrence, constant and responsive reforms would be required to encompass a “holistic” approach. de Greiff, supra note 4, ¶ 20.

17Rao, supra note 13 (explaining that “there have been some benefits, though the programmes have not been as transformative as hoped” in conflict-affected states, stemming from police culture and community relations).

18Teitel, supra note 15, at 93; see also Teitel, supra note 4, at 896 (describing this shift as one that is moving away from “judgment” and is being “associated with the more complex and diversely felt necessities of State-building in contemporary political circumstances”).

19Teitel, supra note 15, at 93.

20Crime in Latin America, supra note 12 (Examining this breakdown, it is imperative to view transitional justice mechanisms through the lens of “the characteristics of the contexts in which they are applied” given the reality that they must be “fine-tuned, targeted and sensitive to context.”); de Greiff supra note 4, ¶ 18.

21Crime in Latin America, supra note 12.

22de Greiff, supra note 4, ¶ 10. The UN Special Rapporteur defines this set of processes as “preventing the recurrence of crises and future violations of human rights, to ensure social cohesion, nation-building, ownership and inclusiveness at the national and local levels and to promote reconciliation.” Id. ¶ 46; see Teitel, supra note 15, at 71−72, 78, 89−90 (describing the post-Cold War transitions as being associated with “diverse Nation-building projects” and describing present conditions of ongoing conflict).

23Teitel, supra note 15, at 89−90.

24Id. at 90.

25See de Greiff, supra note 4, ¶ 46.

26Clare Ribando Seelke, Cong. Research Serv., RL34112, Gangs in Central America 1 (2016).

27Id.

28Ramirez, supra note 1, at 34.

29de Greiff, supra note 4, ¶ 46 (examining the community policing initiatives through the lens of the goals of transitional justice, set out as justice, reparation, truth, and reform (in order to prevent re-occurrence)).

30For example, it has been argued that rather than criminalize certain acts coupled with forceful responses, institutions would be better served by hewing to U.N. Rights of the Child Convention. José Luis Rocha & Dennis Rodgers, Gangs of Nicaragua 162 (Impresiones Helios 1st ed. 2008). In fact, the Mano Dura approach in El Salvador was struck down for its violation of the Convention. Rodgers et al., Gangs of Central America: Cases, Costs, and Interventions (2009), reprinted in Small Arms Survey; Occasional Paper 23, 12.

31Ramirez, supra note 1, at 34 (the six World Governance Indicators are “political stability/absence of violence, control of corruption, regulatory quality, rule of law, government effectiveness, and voice and accountability”); see also Rao, supra note 13, at 2 (drawing from case studies in Afghanistan, Kenya, and Sierra Leone, the author has found that through these relationships, state legitimacy was strengthened along with trust while exposing a series of lessons that are indicative of the challenges which will be highlighted throughout Central America).

32Teitel, supra note 4, at 905 (describing this “backwards-looking” approach as one that is “not capable of ensuring prospective security”).

33It has been argued that transitional justice principles are not “adequate” in guiding situations “addressing the move to politics,” but a post-conflict conception of these principles can provide “needed authority” guiding “situations of heightened political fragmentation.” Id.

34Stone, supra note 9.

35Crime in Latin America, supra note 12.

36Youth gangs are defined by members ranging between twelve and twenty-four years of age. Seelke, supra note 26, at 1–2.

37Id. at 5–7. “Youth gangs” is the most encompassing term as there is no “universally accepted definition” of what constitutes a “gang” amongst law enforcement agencies; therefore, in surveys, agencies are asked to identify “a group of youths or young adults in your jurisdiction that you or other responsible persons in your agency or community are willing to identify as a ‘gang.’” Also “youth” is not synonymous with “juvenile.” National Youth Gang Survey Analysis, Nat’l Gang Ctr., https://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/Survey-Analysis (last visited Sept. 14, 2017).

38Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 1.

39Seelke, supra note 26, at 3.

40The Mano Dura approach rose to prominence as a response to the mara ascendency, while Nicaragua’s community-oriented approach is lauded for the very reason that it has excluded mara gangs from its borders. Reyes, supra note 3.

41Dennis Rodgers, Nicaragua’s Gangs: Historical Legacy or Contemporary Symptom?, N. Am. Cong. on Latin Am., https://nacla.org/article/nicaragua%25E2%2580%2599s-gangs-historical-legacy-or-contemporary-symptom (last visited Sept. 14, 2017).

42Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 6.

43Id.

44Seelke, supra note 26.

45José Alberto Rodríguez Bolaños & Jorge Sanabria León, Demoscopía S.A., Maras y Pandillas, Comunidad y Polícia en Centroamérica 14 (2007).

46Rodgers, supra note 41, at 2.

47Id.

48Id. at 4 (terming their origins as stemming from a “unique transnational development”).

49Anika Oettler, The Central American Fear of Youth, 5 (2) Int’l J. Conflict & Violence, 261, 266 (2011).

50Rodgers, supra note 41, at 2–3. (It is worth noting that, while Northern Triangle refugees gravitated to the West Coast where MS-13 and 18th Street [Barrio 18] were born, Nicaraguan immigrants were concentrated in Costa Rica and Miami, which did not suffer from the same gang dynamic). Stone, supra note 9.

51Rodgers, supra note 41, at 2. Following the 1996 passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, 46,000 convicts were deported for any conviction resulting in a sentence of one year or more. Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 7.

52Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 7.

53Id. (explaining the origin of the word “MS” [Mara Salvatrucha] as a “combination of salvadoreńo and trucha, meaning ‘quick thinking’ or ‘shrewd’ in Salvadoran slang”).

54Rodgers, supra note 41.

55Müller, supra note 2, at 709.

56Id. at 697.

57Id. at 696.

58Rodgers, supra note 41, at 4 (This distinction potentially makes lessons learned from pandilla engagement [i.e. Nicaragua] more widely applicable outside of the region).

59Silva Mathema, They are Refugees: An Increasing Number of People are Fleeing Violence in the Northern Triangle, Ctr. for Am. Progress (Feb. 24, 2016), https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2016/02/24/131645/they-are-refugees-an-increasing-number-of-people-are-fleeing-violence-in-the-northern-triangle/.

60Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 4.

61Seelke, supra note 26.

62Stone, supra note 9.

63Id.

64Reyes, supra note 3.

65Seelke, supra note 26, at 6; see also Ramirez, supra note 1, at 15 (charting homicide rates in Central America between 1996 and 2012); see generally Orlando J. Pérez, Gang Violence and Insecurity in Contemporary Central AmericaBulletin Of Latin American Research 32, 217–34 (2013) (Homicide rates are the most reliable indicator of violence given that homicides rarely go unreported).

66Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 1; see also Cruz, supra note 8, at 25 (positing that maras are merely “scapegoats for insecurity and justified draconian state responses,” shifting the burden of violence from gangs to state actors).

67Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 179.

68Id. This characterization emerged during a regional summit of heads of Central American states. Id. at 180.

69Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 4 (“These qualitative studies also highlight the fact that there is great diversity among countries in the region. At this writing, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are clearly experiencing much greater levels of gang violence than Costa Rica and Nicaragua.”).

70See generally Müller, supra note 2, at 709–10.

712011 National Gang Threat Assessment, FBI, https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment (last visited Sept. 14, 2017).

72Id.

73Müller, supra note 2, at 715.

74Id.

75Id. Violence statistics in countries containing maras have in fact risen significantly since 2007. See Seelke, supra note 26, at 1, 14; 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, supra note 71.

76Ungar & Arias, supra note 7 (discussing the origins of community-oriented policing as it was exported to Latin America).

77Nicholas de Katzenbach et al., Foreword to The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society, A Report by the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice (1967) (intending to understand more “about those who commit, about those who are its victims, and about what can be done to reduce it” to create a “safer and more just society”).

78The Professional Model was characterized by updating departments and reorganizing them according to a rigid hierarchical structure which was characterized by three tactics: “(1) Motorized patrol, (2) rapid response to calls for service, and (3) retrospective investigation of crimes.” Mark Moore, Robert Trojanowicz & George Kelling, Crime and Policing, Nat’l Inst. Just. (1988).

79Ungar & Arias, supra note 7. Problem-oriented policing on the other hand simply sought feedback from citizens in order to “help them identify and solve problems in their own communities,” a backward-looking approach that was confronted by community policing. Moore, Trojanowicz & Kelling supra note 78, at 3.

80James Q. Wilson & George L. Kelling, Broken Windows; The Police and Neighborhood Safety, Atlantic Monthly 29, 32 (1982) (Interestingly, in 1982, data did not support the concept of community-oriented policing as an effective way of cutting street crime as harm was not equated with fear but rather disorder).

81Tom Tyler, The Paradox of American Policing: Performance without Legitimacy, Dispatch, July 2010, http://cops.usdoj.gov/html/dispatch/July_2010/AmericanPolicing.asp.

82This legitimacy can only be developed when it is the “fairness of police behavior–not the fear of police force and the threat of punishment–[that] creates legitimacy, and through it drives public actions.” Id.

83These riots “heavily involved” both the 18th Street Gang and the Mara Salavatrucha and were part of the impetus behind the passing of these toughened laws. Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 7.

84Id.

85Id. at 6. This was the same group that would form the transnational component of the mara gangs in the Northern Triangle. Rodgers, supra note 41, at 2.

86 Matthew T. DeMichele & Peter B. Kraska, Community Policing in Battle Garb, in Militarizing the American Criminal Justice System: The Changing Roles of the Armed Forces and the Police 82, 88–89 (Peter B. Kraska ed., UPNE 2001).

87 Id. at 83.

88Id. at 88–89.

89Katz & Webb, supra note 14, at 321. Anecdotally, a precinct lieutenant described his gang unit’s use of community policing as follows: “[Y]es, from a standpoint that there is liaison and they are dealing with the internal customers, mainly patrol officers, yes. No, from the standpoint that they are not solving problems long term, they are solving them short term . . . the short-term reactionary issues.” Id. at 424.

90Id. at 396.

91 Id. at 475.

92For example, broad-ranging definitions of community-oriented policing models have described portions of the Professional Model, the “broken windows” approach, and even a “governmentality” approach. See generally DeMichele & Kraska, supra note 86.

93See generally id.

94Preciado, supra note 10; see also José Miguel Cruz, The Root Causes of the Central American Crisis, 114 Current History, Feb. 2015, at 43, 47 [hereinafter “The Root Causes”]. Other program names demonstrate the same commitment to repression as evidenced by “the Broom Plan, the Zero Tolerance Plan, the Hard Hand Plan and the Super Hard Hand Plan.” Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 162.

95Oettler, supra note 49, at 273; see Müller supra note 2, at 712 (describing the analogous “tough on crime approach” imported from the United States).

96DeMichele & Kraska, supra note 86, at 84; see, e.g., Müller, supra note 2, at 705, 709 (describing civil gang injunctions in the U.S. which closely track the “anti-social behaviors” targeted by Northern Triangle governments).

97Seelke, supra note 26.

98Oettler, supra note 49, at 261. These arrests were short lived as the original mano dura plan was struck down in El Salvador for violating UN Rights of the Child conventions. Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30.

99Preciado, supra note 10, at 3–4.

100Id.

101Matt Budd, Countering Militarised Public Security in Latin America: Lessons from Nicaragua, Sustainable Security (Nov. 12, 2013), https://sustainablesecurity.org/2013/11/12/community-policing-in-nicaragua/.

102Id. In this capacity, 4,000 soldiers were deployed in “troubled neighborhoods in Guatemala City.” Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 178.

103Budd, supra note 101. “This collaboration extended to joint urban patrolling, sometimes even using tanks.” Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 178.

104As Ralph Waldo Emerson opined, all history is subjective in the mind of each individual; but, by placing facts in context, we can attempt to understand the development of the Nicaraguan security apparatus. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Collected Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, History, Easton Press 5 (1962).

105Preciado, supra note 10, at 44.

106Id. at 45.

107Rodgers, supra note 41, at 3 (internal quotations omitted).

108Id.

109Id. This shift mirrors the violence endemic in mara dominated Northern Triangle countries. Seelke, supra note 26, at 6.

110Rodgers, supra note 41, at 3. This dearth of available jobs pushed this younger generation into gangs which lacked the soldiering background that pandillas drew from following the peace accords in 1990. Id. This economic insecurity is often mentioned in the U.S. context, where, in response to drivers of gang affiliation, one gang officer perceived that “[p]art of that, I’m sure, is socio-economic.” Katz & Webb, supra note 14, at 321.

111Ramirez, supra note 1, at 32.

112This is indicative of the underlying trend of constant reform. Id. at 34 (This pressure “to eliminate its historic links to the FSLN” was the catalyst that spurred the definition of the force’s “institutional purpose.”).

113 Id. While the non-partisan nature of the police force is touted following the enactment of the 1996 law, Director Granera was previously Chief of Staff for the Interior Ministry during the first Sandinista regime and credits her decision to participate in the new force as one made after deciding “not [to] hand[] my rifle over to someone who will use it against my people.” Id. Additionally, the strengthening of security institutions has been attributed to the Sandinistas following the transition in order to “legitimate” their role post-1990. Cruz, supra note 8, at 25.

114Seelke, supra note 26, at 13; See Policía Nacional, Sistematización del Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo de Nicaragua, 38 (2011). [hereinafter Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo].

115The Root Causes, supra note 94, at 47.

116Tim Johnson, Nicaragua’s Top Cop, Who Once Wanted to Be a Nun, Fends Off Drug Gangs, McClatchey Hyde DC (Nov. 15, 2011), http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article24718984.html.

117Reyes, supra note 3 (other indicators of security are also analyzed in this Comment).

118Eyder Peralta, With a Soft Approach on Gangs, Nicaragua Eschews Violence, NPR (Oct. 28, 2014), http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2014/10/28/359612148/with-a-soft-approach-on-gangs-nicaragua-eschews-violence. Programs that may influence this number will be discussed in greater depth in the analysis of Nicaragua’s programs, specifically those of their Juvenile Affairs division. Seelke, supra note 26, at 13. This division “runs at least two anti-gang activities a month,” which focus on preventative and rehabilitative techniques through involvement in “family, school and community interventions.” Id.

119This continuous process can be seen through the implementation of successive five-year plans in an effort to constantly improve best practices and adapt to realties of changing dynamics. Seelke, supra note 26, at 13; See also Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo supra note 114, at 38.

120See generally Seelke, supra note 26, at 13 (describing successive five-year plans).

121Tyler, supra note 81.

122For an overview of different uses of the term “community policing” within different State applications, see Rao, supra note 13, at 1–6.

123Id. at 1.

124Cruz, supra note 8, at 25.

125Crime in Latin America, supra note 12.

126Stone, supra note 9.

127Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 178–79 (describing the striking down of Salvadoran approaches in contravention of the CRC).

128In the years following the implementation of these approaches, there was actually a spike in violence, leading to the theory that it was, in fact, State-sponsored violence, which begat more violence while also obfuscating the State’s role in the violence itself. Cruz, supra note 8, at 25–26.

129Tyler, supra note 81.

130See generally National Juvenile Justice Network [NJJN], The Convention on the Rights of the Child: Implications for Juvenile Justice Reform, Fact Sheet, at 2 (Mar. 2010).

131Sarah Westerlund & Marlene Widenbladh, The Rural Judicial Facilitators Program in Nicaragua–an Exemplary Model of Restorative Justice?, MFS-report No. 43, UMEÅ University Department of Law, p. 14. (Mar. 3, 2007).

132The point has been made that these approaches might be “softer” in nature given the lesser level of violence exhibited by pandillas. Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 179. But see Rodgers, supra note 41, at 6–7 (describing the nature of the pandillas as more representative of “youth gangsterism,” a distinction which potentially makes lessons learned from pandilla engagement more widely applicable outside of the region).

133Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 162.

134For example, following the implementation of hard line approaches, El Salvador’s “incarcerated population has doubled over the past five years.” Id. at 178; see also Rodgers et al., supra note 30, at 7 (describing the crackdown following the Rodney King riots).

135See Rocha & Rodgers, supra note 30, at 178–79.

136See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 38 (understanding the program as written).

137This concept of transition in post-conflict settings comes about “as a result of generalized social conflict in which, among other factors, there is a plethora of violent agents,” a situation that Nicaragua is proactively combatting through preventative approaches in an attempt to promote non-recurrence. de Greiff, supra note 4, ¶ 19, 20.

138See Ley No. 872, supra note 4.

139See id.

140See generally Crime in Latin America, supra note 12; see also Tyler, supra note 81.

141See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 38–39.

142Id. at 38.

143Specifically, this program sought to rehabilitate adolescents who suffered from addictions and had run-ins with the law in order to “correct” behaviors rather than punish. See id.

144See id.

145This legitimacy can only be developed when it is the “fairness of police behavior–not the fear of police force and the threat of punishment–[that] creates legitimacy and through it drives public actions.” Tyler, supra note 81, at 2.

146Peralta, supra note 118.

147Stone, supra note 9 (describing political promotions, the current Director’s Sandinista ties, and WikiLeaks cables demonstrating political intrigue).

148Johnson, supra note 116.

149 Turning Back the Tide: Promising Efforts to Demilitarize Police Departments, Pol’y Link Advancement Project (Apr. 2015) https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55b673c0e4b0cf84699bdffb/t/55b85c4fe4b044c6d34683d8/1438145615746/PL_BCC_DEMIL_POLICE_DEPT_04292015_rev.pdf.

150Stone, supra note 9 (summarizing her model as one that is “preventative, proactive, communitarian, deeply rooted in the heart of the community”); see also Crime in Latin America, supra note 12 (pointing out the unique feature of the recruitment process, which requires community approval for each academy recruit, potentially serving as a driver for community engagement and buy-in).

151See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo supra note 114, at 39.

152See id. at 38.

153See id.

154See id.

155See id. at 40.

156See id.

157See id.

158See id.

159See id.

160See id. This goal is also in keeping with the UN in Rights of the Child Convention. National Juvenile Justice Network [NJJN], supra note 130, at 2.

161 See generally Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 39.

162See id.

163See id. at 40.

164Tyler, supra note 81.

165See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 40–41.

166See id. at 41 (understanding the program as written).

167See id.

168Peralta, supra note 118.

169Richard Maclure & Melvin Sotelo, Youth Social Capital Formation in Nicaragua, 22 Int’l J. of Children’s Rts. 385, 404 (2014).

170See generally Ley No. 872, supra note 4.

171Seelke, supra note 26, at 13.

172Id. at 13.

173Stone, supra note 9.

174José Miguel Cruz, Democratization Under Assault: Criminal Violence in Post-Transition Central America 173 (2010) [hereinafter “Democratization Under Assault”].

175Id. at 172.

176Id. at 161.

177Stone, supra note 9.

178Id.

179Ley No. 872, supra note 4.

180Budd, supra note 101, at 4 (numbering 40,000 members and 143 Cabinets respectively).

181Peralta, supra note 118.

182Stone, supra note 9.

183Ungar & Arias, supra note 7, at 3.

184Budd, supra note 101, at 4 (focusing specifically on “juvenile justice and intra-family or sexual violence”).

185Finding upwards of seventy-four percent of Central American residents perceived this threat. Orlando J. Pérez, Gang Violence and Insecurity in Contemporary Central America, 32 J. Soc’y Latin Am. Stud. 217, 220 (2013).

186Budd, supra note 101, at 2.

187Seventy-six percent of agencies surveyed used targeted patrolas while sixty-four percent had established a gang unit or assigned a gang officer. Arlen Egley, Jr., et al., Highlights of the 2012 National Youth Gang Survey, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, https://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/248025.pdf.

188Suppression tactics generally describe “arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of gang members.” Eric Fritsch et al., Gang Suppression Through Saturation Patrol, Aggressive Curfew, and Truancy Enforcement: A Quasi-Experimental Test of the Dallas Anti-Gang Initiative, 45(1) Crime and Delinquency 122, 122 (1999).

189Agencies simply adopted programs modeled on those that had been perceived as successful. Katz & Webb, supra note 14, at 479.

190Id. at 2–3.

191Id. at 2.

192Id. at 3. (exposing extrajudicial excessive force, planting of drugs, and all-out war on certain racial groups perceived to be gang members).

193Id. at 2–4.

194The vernacular “war on transnational street gangs” has led to “US interests in shaping regional politics and order” and the “logic is that crime and violence have overwhelmed local police forces—weak and corrupt to begin with—and therefore the armed forces are necessary for the state to provide security.” Müller, supra note 2, at 697.

195See generally Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 38.

196See Nancy E. Brune, Sustaining Security: Community Policing in the AmericasAmericas Quarterly 112, 113 (2014).

197See id. at 112, 117.

198Wilson & Kelling, supra note 80.

199Katz & Webb, supra note 14, at xv, 14–15.

200Id.

201Id. at 402.

202See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 38–39.

203Fritsch et al., supra note 188, at 122.

204Id. at 123.

205DeMichele & Kraska, supra note 86, at 84

206Rao, supra note 13, at 1.

207See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 39.

208Katz & Webb, supra note 14, at 321.

209Id.

210See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 39.

211Peralta, supra note 118.

212Katz & Webb, supra note 14, at 13–14.

213Id.

214See Modelo Policial Comunitario Proactivo, supra note 114, at 38–39.

215Tyler, supra note 81.

216 Id.

217Brune, supra note 196, at 6–8.

218Katz & Webb, supra note 86, at xvi–xvii.

219Id.

220Rao, supra note 13, at 3.

Notes and Comments Editor, Emory International Law Review, Volume 32; J.D. Candidate, Emory University School of Law (2018); Yale University B.A. (2014). The author would like to thank his faculty advisor, Professor Laurie Blank, for her guidance and patience throughout the writing process; the members of the Executive Board of the Emory International Law Review for their feedback and edits in preparing this Comment for publication; as well as his friends and family for their support throughout this process.