Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Soldiers on the Streets

Soldiers on a streetcorner on Ave. Septima in downtown Bogota. 
The sudden appearance of soldiers on Bogotá's streets has disturbed many Bogotanos, including Mayor Gustavo Petro, who asserted that that's the job for police, not the military. 

Soldiers have long been a common sight around government buildings, often toting M-16s or Galil rifles. And I often meet army units marching thru central Bogotá, combining patrolling and do training marches - during which they carry out stop-and-searches, as I can attest from personal experience. But the soldiers-as-cops is a new thing. Crime is a big concern here, and Bogotanos, used to stern police tactics, don't seem overly concerned about the soldiers. But one has to wonder how effective an automatic rifle would be against a pickpocket.

Police frisk two young men on Carrera 10, in central Bogotá.
But Bogotá could make its police force much more effective by requiring cops to actively patrol, instead of standing around catching up on each other's personal news. 

Police in deep conversation on a street in the Santa Fe neighborhood. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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