Police Primacy

June 24, 2014 - 2:58pm
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“Police primacy” is frequently listed as an objective in police reform processes. However, there is no common understanding of what the phrase means. Because it is commonly used by military commanders, diplomats, security sector reform experts, and others operating in difficult and dangerous scenarios, this is no mere academic debate. Those who call for police primacy as a solution to major problems, those who plan for it, and those who are responsible for delivering it must understand exactly what the term implies and embraces in a specific context.

This Research Memorandum identifies two main strands of meaning attached to the phrase “police primacy” and demonstrates how to move beyond this division by focusing on their shared goal of delivering strategic change within police institutions. It examines several police interventions, identifies common obstacles to achieving police reform, and suggests factors critical to success.