Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


Photo credit: Observatorio de Favelas do Rio de Janeiro



April 21, 2014 - CDDRL, FSI Stanford, Program on Poverty and Governance News

Stanford conference to examine violence and policing

By Sadaf H. Minapara

Scholars, law enforcement officials, business leaders and community activists will meet next week at Stanford to examine violence and policing in Latin American and the United States.

A two-day conference beginning April 28 will highlight the work of entrepreneurs and grassroots organizations trying to reduce violence and rebuild civil society. The gathering is hosted by the Program on Poverty and Governance (PovGov) at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. It is hosted in partnership with the Bill Lane Center for the American West, the Center for Latin American Studies, the ‘Mexico Initiative’ at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Center for International Security and Cooperation.

"Violence linked to drug trafficking, gang wars and criminality is one of the leading barriers to development that effects the lives of millions in Latin America,” said Beatriz Magaloni, an associate professor of political science who directs PovGov, a program that studies the links between public action, goverance and poverty.

“The conference brings together people who have dealt with these problems in cities in Latin America and in the U.S. Seldom is the case that we bring to campus practitioners with first-hand experience dealing with some of the most pressing problems the hemisphere is confronting,” said Magaloni, who is also a senior fellow at FSI. 

The first day of the conference will feature a panel with Jose Galicot, the driving force of Tijuana Innovadora, a movement that helped Tijuana recover from devastating criminal activity and violence the last four years. Galicot will be joined by Jailson Silva, from Observatório of Favelas, one of the most reputable grass-roots organizations in the slums of Rio that undertakes research, consultancy and public actions focused on the city's favelas.

Many violence-plagued cities in the U.S. have implemented innovative initiatives to address the challenge that have included community policing tools and youth violence interventions. Similar initiatives are also taking place in Latin America with varying degrees of success. One of the goals of the conference is to get practitioners to share their experiences and best practices to reduce violence in major cities.

One of three featured keynote speakers, Sergio Fajardo, the current governor of Antioquia, Colombia, will speak on April 29 and help build the foundation for such dialogue. From 2003 to 2007, Fajardo implemented an effective strategy to reduce the level of violence in Medellin while he was mayor of the Colombian city.

By providing alternatives to illicit work, allocating resources to the most disadvantage areas, reclaiming public spaces and fostering dialogue among different sectors of society to create a sense of collective ownership, Fajardo transformed Medellin.

The two other keynotes include Mariano Beltrame, minister of security of Rio de Janeiro who is credited for the enactment and implementation of the Pacification Police Unites to reduce violence in the favelas of the city and Hector Robles, major of the municipality of Zapopan who has implemented various innovative policies to give better opportunities to the youth in Mexico, including an initiative called Jovenes con Porvenir (Youth with a Bright Future). 

The conference will also bring together police chiefs from Brazil and the U.S. to share their experiences and insights on grassroots implementation of initiatives designed to reduce violence. General Commander of Operations, Coronel Paulo Henrique, from the military police of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Chief Eric Jones from Stockton, CA will be speaking on a panel titled, “’Pacification’ Strategies and Policing” on day two of the conference. Tony Farrar, chief of police for the city of Rialto, CA will be joined by Robert Chapman, deputy director of Community Policing Advancement and others to present on police accountability and gang violence in the U.S shortly thereafter.  

The conference will build upon a PovGov research project that is focused on the Brazilian military police in Rio de Janeiro. Targeting an important initiative in the city's favelas, the "Pacifying Police Units", the ongoing project investigates the use of lethal force by the police and reforms aimed at controlling violence.

A number of conference sessions will be led by CDDRL faculty members and affiliates, including: FSI Director Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar; Francis Fukuyama, the Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow; FSI senior fellow and CDDRL affiliated faculty member Alberto Díaz-Cayeros; and former President of Peru and CDDRL Visiting Lecturer Alejandro Toledo. A conference report will be made available following the event.

Sessions will be held at Stanford University's Bechtel Conference room in Encina Hall on Monday, April 28 and the Alumni Center on Tuesday, April 29.  All sessions are free and open to the public. Please RSVP here to attend. A complete agenda can be found here.

For conference updates via Twitter please visit #PovGov