Honduras Establishes Elite ‘Tigers’ Police Unit to Fight Urban Violence

first_img The Honduran Congress has approved the establishment of an independent, elite police unit — with military and judicial backing — in a bid to curb rising levels of drug-fueled violence in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and other major urban centers. The unit will be known as TIGRES (Tropa de Inteligencia de Respuesta Especial de Seguridad). “This ‘Tigers’ unit will receive training from the Special Forces and will focus on providing citizen security and taking on the ‘narcos’ and organized crime,” Gen. René Osorio Canales, head of the Honduran Armed Forces, told Diálogo in a June 7 interview. “The director will be named this month and we aim to have the unit operational by November carrying out missions primarily in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula,” he added. “Later, they will also target emblematic cases on special missions in other rural areas of the country.” When undertaking specialized missions, the ‘Tigers’ will work hand-in-hand with a range of experienced judges and local prosecutors, providing an integrated approach to tackling drugs and urban crime, Osorio said. An integrated approach Adam Blackwell, secretary for multidimensional security at the Organization of American States, said Honduras needs “an integrated, strategic approach to bolster state institutions on the one hand and bring in civil society and the private sector on the other.” “[At the OAS], we’ve started work through the peace process with the gangs and we’re working with the legislatures and trying to get political pacts to at least maintain some level of continuity within the security sector,” said Blackwell, a former Canadian career diplomat with extensive experience in Honduras and El Salvador. Adam Isacson, senior associate for regional security policy at the Washington Office on Latin America, said formation of the elite Tigers group is “a good first step” but that “you also need a regular police force that has links to judges and local prosecutors. When creating elite security force units in Central America, the biggest challenge has been to prevent them from being corrupted by organized crime groups.” “Assuming that this unit works reasonably well and it’s going to have some impact in certain areas, you still have to be careful not to end up with the tip of the spear without the spear,” Isacson said. Bridging the security gap Gen. Osorio points to a few positive first signs within the security sector in fighting the country’s homicide rate, which at 85.5 per 100,000 inhabitants last year was the world’s highest, according to the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH). Specifically, the northwestern city of San Pedro Sula registered 173 homicides per 100,000 in 2012, making it the world’s most violent metropolis outside a war zone. “Vetted police will be heavily recruited to boost the Tigers, who will be specially trained in intelligence gathering by units such as the [U.S. SWAT-trained] Cobras, and the Armed Forces will also provide support where necessary,” he explained. Regional groups like the OAS — along with the Honduran military — remain positive about efforts to chip away at the rising culture of violence on the coasts and in cities such as San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. Military on the move Honduras participates in Operation Martillo, a multinational military effort that works to increase offshore monitoring along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, and coordinates with governments to intercept drug shipments. “This year in particular, our Armed Forces have focused their efforts on identifying and destroying ‘narco’ airstrips on the Caribbean/Atlantic coast. In February alone, our naval forces bought two corvette warships and six speedboats from the Dutch government to boost our maritime surveillance and interdiction of drugs in these same coastal areas,” he said. While these military-led initiatives are key to attacking part of the problem, Isacson points out the need for quick and simple protection mechanisms in urban areas. “If you’re riding a bus, driving the roads, if you own any business you’re being robbed at gunpoint and extorted very frequently,” he said. “Somebody’s got to be able to put a stop to that, and in the short term the Armed Forces can do that. But even after a little while they too lose their effectiveness so they’ve got to be replaced by a police force that works.” Isacson suggested that the Honduran police “need to change their training, recruit like crazy, drum out those who fail the tests, boost community policing, improve response times and increase investigative capacities. This is not about the big ‘narco’ shipments but simply about protecting people.” Honduras aggressively moves on police reform On June 5, Security Minister Arturo Corrales ordered the indefinite suspension of 1,400 police officers from the Honduras Criminal Investigation Unit (DNIC), representing close to 10 percent of the country’s overall police force, on suspicion of corruption. “I know many Honduran police officers who are hardworking, doing miracles in a complicated environment,” Blackwell said. “I don’t think that we can start with the premise that 90 percent of them are bad.” Osorio said this is exactly what he’s trying to achieve through the new Tigers force. “The 300-strong unit will be highly professional, working closely with the local communities. They will come under the orders of the head of police and will have medical benefits and a 30 percent salary increase,” he said. “They will be housed under the Security Ministry as a rapid response unit to fight extortion, carry out investigations, gather intelligence and manage urban combat scenarios.” Blackwell: ‘Not just a law-enforcement problem’ Osorio told Diálogo his government will ask the United States, Spain and Colombia for technical advice and support. In mid-2012, Colombian police began helping Honduras polygraph its police force to determine if any of its members have ties to organized crime. The Honduran Armed Forces are also working closely with their counterparts in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua as well as the United States to exchange intelligence information and break down weapons and drug smuggling networks across borders. At the same time, Blackwell explained that this isn’t just a law-enforcement problem. “You also need to deal with some of the underlying economic and social issues, which is why we’re in this gang truce, so if we can get some more peace in the country we can look at better education, more investment and more jobs,” the OAS official said. “These gangs didn’t grow up overnight and they’re not going to be solved overnight,” he added. “Most of the violence now is about micro-trafficking and competition between the gangs, who are not affiliated with the cartels, to carry out extortion and control territories.” By Dialogo July 08, 2013last_img read more

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Tipp footballers focus on qualifiers.

first_imgA tally of 13 wides didn’t help the Premier County’s cause in Semple Stadium.As a beaten provincial semi-finalist Tipp will enter the qualifiers in Round 2 in early July.Manager Peter Creedon is confident his charges will be able to lift themselves for what could be a tough draw against another Division 1 side.last_img

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LA Lakers draw boos against Hornets after tying franchise record for most consecutive losses

first_imgThe Lakers sure looked that way when they experienced a scoreless stretch in the final 3:50 of the third quarter. Lou Williams missed two shots. Ryan Kelly missed three field-goal attempts and two free throws while also committing a turnover. D’Angelo Russell also recorded three of his five turnovers during that time. Meanwhile, Charlotte scored 12 unanswered points. Throughout that ordeal, the fans at Staples Center showered the Lakers with boos. Meanwhile, Bryant shook his head in disgust as he sat on the bench, something he also did for the entire fourth quarter. Why couldn’t the Lakers make shots or hold on to the ball?“That’s a crazy question,” Russell said. “When you shoot the ball and it doesn’t go in, you can’t control what happens after you shoot it. Turnovers, I guess they played good defense.”The boos did not stop until Russell ended the drought with a jumper at the 10:21 mark of the fourth quarter. But the boos did not turn into cheers until Julius Randle subbed for Kelly as the Lakers trailed 84-60 with 9:48 remaining. “I missed a few in a row,” Kelly said. “It happens sometimes. I have to make them.”And, to think, the Lakers have other concerns besides allowing double-digit efforts to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (19 points), Marvin Williams (19), Kemba Walker (12) and Frank Kaminsky (11). Scott and Bryant suggested the Lakers (9-41) are wilting under a young roster losing its swagger.Said Bryant: “I talked to them a little bit about the chippiness and the meanness. I can only lead them so far. I’m not going to be here next year. Pulling that out of them is a waste if they’re not growing. Then it’s just me talking. They have to pull it out of themselves.”Said Scott: “We have a lot of guys in there right now that has a lack of confidence. We have to get that back.”But Russell suggested the Lakers have failed to make adjustments.“I can only speak for myself,” said Russell, who had 10 points on a 3-of-5 clip, six rebounds and three assists. “I hope the team is the same. I’m still confident. We just got to do something different. When something is not working, we have to do something different as a team. You cant keep doing the same thing if it’s not working.”So what should the Lakers change?“I don’t know,” Russell said.Bryant had other ideas, arguing the 18-year-old version of himself would have scored an 80-point game through this stretch because “I just know my personality.”“I had the same mentality I have now,” Bryant said. “I didn’t understand I was 17. I thought I was good just as anybody else.”So how do the Lakers adopt that mentality?“The Navy Seals have a way of taking guys to the bottom of the pool,” Bryant said. “Sometimes you have to go to the bottom of the pool. We’re almost there, gasping for air.”And they’re doing so while nurturing health concerns. Before Bryant appeared in his first game after missing two of the previous three because of soreness in his right shoulder, Scott sensed those issues are “going to be ongoing for the next 2 1/2 months.” In other words, Bryant’s playing status will likely stay uncertain for all of the Lakers’ remaining 33 regular-season games before Bryant retires from a 20-year NBA career. “Some days his shoulder is going to be feeling great and some days it’s going to be sore,” Scott said. “At his age and all the games that he played, I’m sure there are mornings he wakes up and he’s just sore with the way he slept.”Bryant initially looked sluggish after missing his first five shots. But Bryant soon went on a tear where he scored 11 consecutive points during the second quarter. Bryant then insisted he “felt good” and believes he can play all the way through NBA All-Star weekend.“I’ve conserved enough already,” Bryant said. “Just continue to stay with what I’m doing and make sure I’m nursing nagging injuries and make sure they don’t get worse. I’ll continue to stick with it.”Meanwhile, Lakers rookie forward Larry Nance Jr. sat because of reoccurring soreness in his right knee, an injury that sidelined him last week for four games. That left Scott considering to shut him down for the next five games heading into NBA All-Star weekend, mindful his injury partly stemmed from an ACL injury in his right knee that he suffered during his junior season at University of Wyoming. “He’s been rushing back and not getting fully recovered,” Scott said of Nance Jr. “We know this kid has a bright bright future. So the one thing we want to do is take our time and get him as healthy as possible. Even if it means sitting after All-Star break, I’m good with that as well.”That leaves Randle with a chance to reclaim his starting spot. But after posting four double doubles in his previous seven starts, Randle posted eight points and nine rebounds while committing four fouls. Though Scott gushed about Randle’s aggressiveness and mid-range jumper, he called for Randle to reduce his turnovers and improve his weakside defense. But as the Lakers showed on Sunday, their issues go beyond just one player. “The challenge for our young guys is to stay the course and continue to think positive and continue to work their butts off,” Scott said. “Good things will happen.” For once, the loudest moment of the night did not coincide with Kobe Bryant’s starting lineup introduction. Nor did it happen when Bryant shed off rustiness with each basket he made.Instead, the noise erupted amid the Lakers’ sluggish end to their third quarter that cemented something more than just another forgettable loss, a 101-82 defeat to the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday at Staples Center. It also secured the Lakers’ 10th consecutive loss, which tied a team record set in the 1993-94 season. Usually the names Magic Johnson and Byron Scott spark nostalgia about the Showtime Lakers and their many championships. But Johnson (1993-94), who was in attendance Sunday, and Scott (present) have also coached the Lakers during their worst losing streaks in franchise history. “Honestly it doesn’t really matter,” said Bryant, who posted 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting, 4 of 8 from 3-point range, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals in 23 minutes. “What, it makes a (expletive) season less (expletive)?”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

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