Amigos de la Policia welcomes Granada’s new police chief

Police Commissioner Fátima Flores Méndez is Granada’s new police chief and she is bringing a new vigor and vitality to the position, which she will hold for three years. Commissioner Flores comes to Granada with 33 years of police experience. Her previous departmental posts were in León, Chontales, and Rivas, as well as a tour of duty as head of the National Traffic Police and one in Managua’s Oriental Market.

More importantly, Commissioner Flores comes to Granada with a willingness to change things here. When she first arrived in town, she spent several nights working with the police night shift walking the streets of Granada to get a feel for her new assignment. In previous interviews, she indicated she wanted to work together with organized community groups, improve safety at night and strengthen the general police presence.

The Amigos de la Policia is a group of citizens, expats and businesses that organized in Granada several years ago to improve the communications between the community and the police. With various degrees of success, relations were improved. Motorcycles were purchased, gasoline vouchers were provided to cops and training was offered. Unfortunately, results were mixed and members of Amigos de la Policia began losing their interest in the group. The common perception was that police were not improving their methods despite efforts to help; a police presence was not seen outside of the Central Park area and responses to calls for assistance resulted in long delays—if they responded at all.

Things have changed. The community has grown, more businesses have opened and tourism is up. Nicaraguans are returning from abroad and more expats are moving to the Granada area. And of course, we have a new police chief that wants to improve things and work with the community. Because of all this, the Amigos de la Policia saw an opportunity to renew its efforts and work with the police again.

Amigos de la Policia recently held a few meetings with Commissioner Flores to discuss our history and past problems. We reached an agreement to initiate several new programs of cooperation. We came away from our meetings believing the new police chief could be an instrument of change with our support and that the Granada community would support her if changes are seen. We agreed to start with three initial programs:

1. Formal English classes for selected policemen
10 officers would be selected, formal classes provided, required attendance, regular testing.

2. Gas money (solely for the tourism police)
Gas vouchers would be used solely for the Tourist Police which would help response times.

3. Provide police communications to Amigos de la Policia
Provide timely and relevant reporting of police activities and successes for publishing to the community.

But first, introductions were needed before the Amigos de la Policia could begin recruiting members again. And the new police chief wanted an opportunity to meet with folks and explain her plans for the city.

Last Thursday at the Garden Café, around 40 people showed up to hear the police chief explain her plans and to ask her questions. Commissioner Flores said there are 160 police officers assigned to the city and the force is requesting an additional 50 officers. The plans are to expand the tourism police unit to 17 officers and open a new police station in the tourism area along the lake. Our hope is that the tourism police will begin regular patrols on the streets of Granada. In addition, new phone numbers are being set up to improve response times.

We now have a real opportunity to improve security in Granada, but the community must support the new efforts of the police. By the community we mean citizens, expats, businesses, tourists and foundations. As Mark James commented at the presentation, “It is a two-way street, reach out to a policeman when you see one, say ‘Hola’ and express your appreciation.”

Amigos de la Policia will be sending out invitations to the community to join our organization. Members will receive a badge that demonstrates their support. If you want to be part of the solution, please consider joining our board of directors. We welcome any constructive ideas that will help our organization to help Granada.

In the meantime, please warmly welcome Police Chief Flores to Granada. Let’s provide her the support to make Granada even better. For more information about Amigos de la Policia, write us at: amigospolicia@yahoo.com.

  • mnelson

    Good going Amigospolicia, It would be great if we could do something similar here in Rivas.

    Is it my imagination but it seems traffic police are generally more polite? I just don’t worry any more when pulled over for a document check that there will be a search for something wrong with the car or equipment.

  • Lucio Rangel

    Finally “something” objective / impartial to report where the political hatred and personal attacks to the president and first lady is placed aside, do your best to keep it in mind for further publications in all of your articules.

  • Tom in Virginia

    Congratulations everyone…Our new police commissioner sounds like a wonderful and talented professional who will help improve relationships.
    I look forward to meeting Commissioner Flores and want to help however I can when in Granada and hope that she will work hard to train all police that all tourists who travel there should not be singled out for questionable traffic stops just because they are driving a new rental car and are made to pay illegal “fines” when taxis, trucks, and others speed and obviously break every traffic law daily….and don’t get stopped. The Tourist Police should be there to assist and promote successful tourism and development for the country and make all visitors feel good about returning, providing medical and educational support, and investing more money in developments and with local businesses thereby helping all of the local economies and providing more and better paying jobs for Nicaraguans. We need to better educate both parties and raise the pay of the tourist and traffic police while also setting up a means to communicate any dispute over too many false traffic stops without having to pay a “fine” on the spot to get our driver’s license back. As someone who has worked with community policing in the States, please sign me up to work with them…I would proudly work together for a better understanding and also would proudly carry a “badge” to show my support to help resolve issues.

  • http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com Police Chief David Couper

    Congratulations to your new police chief. You can help her out by asking him to review and affirm the 12 qualities necessary for police in our society to hold and practice at: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/policing-our-nation.html. Also visit my blog on police improvement at http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com. (Those qualities are: Accountable, Collaborative, Educated and trained, Effective and preventive, Honest, Model citizen, Peacekeeper and protector, Representative, Respectful, Restrained, Servant leader, and Unbiased.) There also is a new book out that may be helpful in thinking about ways in which police can improve by someone who did it: “Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police” (Amazon.com).

  • Joseph

    Its a great dream,but I see no chance of success.You say “,but the community must support the new efforts of the police.Buy the community we mean citizens,epats businesses,tourists and foundations.”I lived in Granada and had contact with the police a few times.the police were very fair and when they agreed with me the citizens were the problem.They accused me of paying the police which was not true.Getting the citizens is the key and that will take decades.You can not expect to change the minds of a culture in a few years.