Ecuador Table of Contents
Figure 21. Organization of the National Police, 1988
Primary responsibility for the preservation of public order rested with the National Police functioning under the supervision of the minister of government and justice. According to Article 136 of the Constitution, the police are an auxiliary body of the armed forces and have the mission of guaranteeing internal order and individual and collective security.
The congress established by the constitution of 1830 decreed that the separate municipal councils would create their own police departments and would have appropriate regulations for law enforcement. For the first thirty years after independence, the police systems were either under the control of the separate municipalities or dominated by the army. The police developed slowly under a system of provincial organizations until the formation of the first national police organization in 1937. In 1951 the name was changed from the National Civil Guard to the National Civil Police and in 1979 to the National Police.
In 1988 the National Police had about 18,000 members grouped in a highly centralized structure organized along military lines. A clear line of demarcation existed between officers and troops with little or no opportunity for troops to advance to officer rank. The National Police was headed by a commanding general of the police who reported directly to the minister of government and justice. The organization consisted of a number of support directorates, as well as technical operations directorates (see fig. 21). The country was divided into four police districts, with headquarters in Quito, Riobamba, Cuenca, and Guayaquil, each with five commands corresponding to provincial boundaries. The Galápagos Islands were included in the Guayaquil district. The National Police also had three instructional facilities: the Troop Training School, which offered basic instruction for enlisted ranks; the Officer Training School, a three-year academy for high school graduates; and the Police Officers' Higher Training School, which provided advanced courses.
Several specialized and local police services supplemented the operations of the National Police. The National Directorate for Control of Illegal Narcotics reported directly to the minister of government and justice. The Customs Police, with fewer than 2,000 officers under the Ministry of Finance and Credit, countered smuggling at ports and airports, supervised the storage of goods in customs, and checked baggage of individuals entering and leaving the country. Both Quito and Guayaquil had metropolitan police forces of several hundred members with a number of low-level functions, such as enforcing local ordinances, controlling public vendors, assuring the removal of trash, and maintaining order in public places. Most other cities also had some type of local police, generally poorly organized and led, whose contribution to law enforcement and prevention of crime was minimal.
Data as of 1989