Above: Haiti Secretary of State for Public Security Reginald Delva (CJ Photo)
By Alexander Britell
NORTH MIAMI — Haiti plans to increase the size of the Haitian National Police to a force of around 15,000 by 2016, according to Reginald Delva, Haiti’s Secretary of State for Public Security.
Delva was speaking at a briefing in North Miami to members of the Haitian Diaspora press corps as part of an effort to improve linkages between the government and the Diaspora media.
“It’s a big priority,” Delva told Caribbean Journal. “Right now we have about 10,000 policemen for a population of over 10 million.”
The real challenge, he said, is determining where to place officers in a country with an exceedingly mobile population.
“Haiti is one of the countries where we have such a moving population,” he said. “People find jobs in certain areas, and then move from this area to that area — so we need to have that data so we can actually see how we can reinforce the police.”
He told Caribbean Journal that the security situation on the ground in Haiti was “very encouraging,” however.
“We are doing a lot better than we were doing two years ago, especially with the results on kidnappings, which scared a lot of people,” he said. “Now, we’re seeing more results than we used to see — we’re still having kidnappings, but we’re seeing more arrests and more people going to trial than we used to.”
Security has been a major stated priority for the government and of the United Nations peacekeeping mission Haiti, particularly in light of President Michel Martelly’s administration’s plans to push the development of the tourism sector.
Delva said he had been working with the Ministry of Tourism to coordinate efforts on security in tourist-popular areas like Jacmel and Cap-Haitien.
Haiti Tourism Minister Stephanie Villedrouin had mentioned the potential creation of a “tourism police,” in her agenda for 2013, something Delva said would eventually come to fruition.
In the meantime, the plan is to work with local mayors’ offices to find a group to constitute such a police force.