Country Listing

Bolivia Table of Contents


Recruitment and Training

The police force was an unpopular career because of poor pay, conditions, and prestige and thus did not attract high-quality personnel. But officers and higher civilian employees, who generally were drawn from the small urban middle class, were of relatively higher quality. Many officer personnel came from the army. Officers were commissioned by graduation from the National Police Academy, by transfer from the army, by direct political appointment for demonstrated ability, or by outright patronage. Civilians were nearly always political appointees. Although specialized education was not a prerequisite for a civilian's appointment, some degree of qualification was usually present and facilitated on-the-job training. Enlisted personnel received most of their training on the job during the first four months after enlistment.

The academic year of the police education system began in February. The Young Men's Basic Police School (Escuela Básica Policial de Varones--EBPV), which had 120 students in 1983, provided a one-year training course at the operational level for subalterns of the national police.

The National Police Academy offered a four-year course for officers. In the early 1980s, the academy's curriculum included criminal law, penal and civil investigation, criminology, ballistics, laboratory science, narcotics, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, order and security of persons and installations, martial arts, and human and public relations. The academy also offered a specialized course patterned on the counterinsurgency course of the United States Army Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The police academy additionally offered a program of foreign training for officers. Selected personnel were sent to training courses either in the United States or in neighboring countries, particularly Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru. On completing their courses abroad, these trainees returned to Bolivia for duty, to lecture at the academy, or to organize and conduct unit-level courses throughout the corps.

In the past, admissions requirements for the academy gave greater importance to political reliability and unquestioned loyalty to the government than to education. By the early 1980s, applicants had to undergo medical, physical, and mental examinations, as well as tests of their general knowledge. Cadets accepted to attend the academy were not subject to the age limitations for enlisted military service. Matriculation exempted them automatically from their military obligations. The normal student body ranged from 480 to 500 cadets divided into four courses. In 1983 the academy had very few women cadets, and the incorporation of women into police ranks was at an experimental stage. On graduation, which required passing an examination, cadets received a bachelor of humanities certificate, a saber to symbolize officer rank, and a commission as second lieutenant in the carabineers. Those graduates who were drawn from brigades then returned to their units to organize local classes.

The Higher Police School (Escuela Superior de Policías--ESP) was created in February 1969 for officers in the ranks of lieutenant colonel and above. The ESP prepared higher officers to manage the command departments, operational units, and training institutes. In 1983 the ESP's student body consisted of fifty-seven higher officers.

Data as of December 1989