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The language of community and societal participation in the context of crime prevention has become ubiquitous throughout Latin America, as governments increasingly turn to police–community partnerships as a means of addressing the seemingly intractable problems of rising crime and insecurity. But to what extent has such “participatory security” had any influence on the capacity of the state to provide security? I argue that in order to understand whether and how these participatory instruments shape what police actually do, we must look to variation in institutional design and how community participation operates in practice. I develop a typology of participatory security that considers how different institutional features may differentially affect police and other state agencies by alternatively serving as channels for the flow of information and oversight mechanisms or simply as a tool for improving the police's image. Drawing on evidence from participatory security institutions in Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia, I illustrate the impact of institutional design on police and state capacity to provide security. I conclude by considering the unintended consequences of institutional design, including the degree of police resistance that different institutional models will generate. This opposition, may, in turn, affect the durability of the participatory institution.


Gonzalez, Yanilda. "Varieties of Participatory Security: Assessing Community Participation in Policing in Latin America." Public Administration and Development 36.2 (May 2016): 132-143.